The Letter by Mabel Forrest

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A victory! We hear across the seas
How they press on, our brave Australian boys,
Pitted against the reivers of the world.
Pitted against the flower of the Huns,
These lads, yet green in battle, make a name
To stand forth in the ranks of Caesar's Guard
And grim battalions of old conquerors!
Did they not right nobly on the Somme?
At Pozieres they lifted high their flag --
Bapaume and Vimy! Off-shoots of the tough
Old British Stock. This mother shears her son
Has gained his D.S.O., and this a bar,
And that a special mention. I the while,
Who am no mother -- and for ever maid --
Have this much to my hand of victory --
My last unopened letter to my love. 

The little silly words I cooed to him,
Through the cold medium of a pen and ink,
Small chronicles of that calm life he knew,
A snapshot of myself in my new gown,
My hand upon the head of his pet dog,
Showing the ring he gave me. I can trace
The merry words I wrote when life was fair,
With budding promise -- for my dear yet lived.
"when you come back" -- I wrote, and then I paused
To let him fill the blank, perhaps with whiff
Of orange blossom blowing down the years,
And the soft rustle of a wedding gown.

The newsboys shriek of "Victory" in the street;
The quick trams grate towards Victoria bridge;
A girl is poring o'er a pencilled page
Thumb-marked with Flanders mud, scrawled from a trench;
But I have only my own letter back,
And stamped upon the flap the word "Deceased."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 11 July 1917

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 11, 2014 7:45 AM.

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