World War One Tea Poem

I teach several online classes about England during both World War I and II. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of research that has been involved in developing these classes. I have accumulated a HUGE library of books (don’t you just love Amazon) plus numerous binders overflowing with information that I have downloaded. Currently, I’m in the process of creating a new course for the fall, so I’m revisiting my all- ready existing research and I came across this poem, in a section I’ve labeled” Britain’s Secret Weapon – The Importance of Tea in Wartime England During World War I and II .

You make it in your mess-tin by the brazier’s rosy gleam;
You watch it cloud, then settle amber clear;
You lift it with your bay’nit, and you sniff the fragrant steam;
The very breath of it is ripe with cheer.
You’re awful cold and dirty, and a-cursin’ of your lot;
You scoff the blushin’ ‘alf of it, so rich and rippin’ ‘ot;
It bucks you up like anythink, just seems to touch the spot:
God bless the man that first discovered Tea!

Since I came out to fight in France, which ain’t the other day,
I think I’ve drunk enough to float a barge;
All kinds of fancy foreign dope, from caffy and doo lay,
To rum they serves you out before a charge.
In back rooms of estaminays I’ve gurgled pints of cham;
I’ve swilled down mugs of cider till I’ve felt a bloomin’ dam;
But ‘struth! they all ain’t in it with the vintage of Assam:
God bless the man that first invented Tea!

think them lazy lumps o’ gods wot kips on asphodel
Swigs nectar that’s a flavour of Oolong;
I only wish them sons o’ guns a-grillin’ down in ‘ell
Could ‘ave their daily ration of Suchong.
Hurrah! I’m off to battle, which is ‘ell and ‘eaven too;
And if I don’t give some poor bloke a sexton’s job to do,
To-night, by Fritz’s campfire, won’t I ‘ave a gorgeous brew
(For fightin’ mustn’t interfere with Tea).
To-night we’ll all be tellin’ of the Boches that we slew,
As we drink the giddy victory in Tea.

Robert William Service

(All shown as the poem was actually written)

2 comments

  1. Wow, what a find. Kipling must be jealous. Did you see the movie “They Shall Not Grow Old”? Amazing restored WW1 footage from the Brits.

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    • Thanks for reading and for your comment! No, I didn’t see that one – I’ll have to see where I can find it. I just got two new books about the Home Front in England during the War to continue my research and they are both over 200 pages!

      Like

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