So Long Cobber

I don’t know who posted this poem on the website:

I hope he or she doesn’t mind the re-post. Let me know who you are! The writer is Jim Harrison who was featured in The Melody of God. My mother met him in 1961 which is when this photo was taken.

I found a copy of this poem that I thought I had lost. I’m not quite sure who the author was other than obviously a soldier and a friend of my great-uncle.


In the darkness of the Menen Road
past shattered trees, struck blind;
An approaching footfall, fitting like a secret key,
Swung wide the door that shut my addled mind
“Stid”, I cried — across the silent months
we locked in double clasp.
When They spawned the souls of men,
We Two were hand-in-handed.

He spoke of life’s new wine he’d drank
Of travellers and highway men, the while.
Some stories old, some new and strange–
With palate still, to finely gauge,
The fraudulent from the fine:
“I’ve been in Blighty far too long
O.T.C. takes time: — but I’ll catch up:
What’s it like in front of Ypres, this time?”

My grip told all ‘Twas good for him to know;
where I left off he would take up anew —
A much tougher job than mine;
Fate had arranged for us to shake and part:
The Reaper said ‘ . . . must have a change’
He wanted better corn than mine’
Stid took last dreams along that battered road,
And an Aussie flag, stuffed in his shirt.

Just when our task was fairly done, again
They called a halt to see who’d won?
And Stid was in the count.
We buried him at Passchendaele,
At our loss the sods were proud:
Their harvest barns were full:
Did the Reapers want the finest corn for seed?
— Who knows?