|A GAL OF THE STREETS
Verily I say unto you, the . . . harlots go into the Kingdom
of Heaven before you.
|I MET ‘er one night down in Leicester Square,
With paint on ‘er lips and dye on ‘er ‘air,
With ‘er fixed glad eye and ‘er brazen stare,–
She were a gal on the streets.
I was done with leave-on my way to France,
I went with ‘er ‘ome–to the cursed game,
“Your pal! Do you know ‘im?” she stopped and said
She stood there and swayed like a drunken man,
Rev Geoffrey A Studdert Kennedy, (1883 – 1929), was born in Leeds, in England and served as a padre on the Western Front in World War I. He was nicknamed ‘Woodbine Willie‘ for giving Woodbine cigarettes to injured and dying soldiers. He became a pacifist during the war and wrote many poems expressing the experiences of ordinary soldiers and others affected by the war, like the one above.
A Gal of the Streets is from his collection The Unutterable Beauty, a book I’ve had for many years. Many of his poems are religious (as you might expect from a minister), but it’s the “dialect poems” at the end of the book I’ve always liked best. The entire text of The Unutterable Beauty is now online, if you’d like to read more.
I wanted to post something to acknowledge Anzac Day. I chose this poem because it talks about the effects of war on the loved ones left behind, as well as the terrible effects on the soldiers themselves.
You can read the other Tuesday poems by clicking on the quill to the left.
I love it! It’s a got a wonderful rocking soothing-ness to it, a bit of an edge and a hard punch at the end
Another great poem for ANZAC Day. I agree about the dialect–it can get in the way if not well done but here it ‘makes’ the poem.