I can not recall his heyday; for I knew him in the day
When his curly hair had thinned a bit, his waxed moustache grown grey.
That he kept the local fruit shop was a trifle in life's plan;
For our Captain Curly Taplin was a military man.
The details of his uniform grow vague now and remote,
All save a pipeclayed helmet and a gaudy scarlet coat.
'Not the Prooshians nor the Rooshians,' Captain Taplin oft averred,
'Shall take this country from us! Harrumph! My Word!'
Our Captain Curly Taplin was the pride of our old town,
Most especially the ladies; for that military frown,
That piercing eye, the gruff command that rumbled in his throat,
The fiercely spiked and waxed moustache, the glowing scarlet coat
Were ideal in the female eye. When our militiamen
Marched out - ah, what a figure was our gallant captain then -
A figure that, in these dull days, might seem a shade absurd,
But - 'My men are drilled and ready, sir! Harrumph! My Word!'
Then came dread news that sent him straight to don his scarlet coat:
Our cables had been severed, and the Russians were afloat!
He, wait for orders? Fiddlesticks! He mobilised his force,
He hung his shop about with flags and yelled till he was hoarse.
He led them out for marches, for parade drills, practice shoots.
Tho, as sergeant Jack McFee remarked, ''Twas awfu' hard on boots.'
But the captain failed to scent a hoax when nothing more occurred;
For, 'We've still to watch them Rooshians, sir! Harrumph! My Word!'
They hurried him, up by the hill, one day long, long ago
With full military honors; and I deem it fitting so.
For this archetype of Diggers, in the fights he was denied,
Would have fallen just as gamely as his grandsons later died;
For he fiercely loved the freedom that this green land offered him,
And, despite his vast vainglory and his posturing so grim,
There was something sacrificial in that eagerness absurd
For - 'One chance to face them Rooshians, sir! Harrumph! My Word!'
More verses by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis
- Spots Through The Ages
- Old Town Types No 20 - Mr Blades The Butcher
- The Lure Of Trees
- Old Town Types No.1 - The Old Town