Hot Digitty Dog

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958

Hot digitty dog! Now, ain't it queer,
I've been abroad for over a year;
Seen a helluva lot since then,
Killed, I reckon, a dozen men;
Six was doubtful, but six was sure,
Three in Normandy, three in the Ruhr.
Four I got with a hand grenade,
Two I shot in a midnight raid:
Oh, I ain't sorry, except perhaps
To think that my jerries wasn't japs.

Hot digitty dog! Now ain't it tough;
I oughta be handed hero stuff -
Bands and banquets, and flags and flowers,
Speeches, peaches, confetti showers;
"Welcome back to the old home town,
Colour Sargent Josephus Brown.
Fought like a tiger, one of our best,
Medals and ribands on his chest.
cheers for a warrior, fresh from the fight . . ."
Sure I'd 'a got 'em - - had I been white.

Hot digitty dog! It's jist too bad,
Gittin' home an' nobody gald;
Sneakin' into the Owl Drug Store
Nobody knowin' me any more;
Admirin' my uniform fine and fit -
Say, I've certainly changed a bit
From the lanky lad who used to croon
To a battered banjo in Shay's Saloon;
From the no-good n*gger who runned away
After stickin' his knife into ol' man Shay.

They's a lynched me, for he was white,
But he raped my sister one Sunday night;
So I did what a proper man should do,
And I sunk his body deep in the slough.
Oh, he taunted me to my dark disgrace,
Called me a n*gger, spat in my face;
So I buried my jack-knife in his heart,
Laughin' to see the hot blood start;
Laughin' still, though it's long ago,
And nobody's ever a-gonna know.

Nobody's ever a-gonna tell
How Ol' Man Shay went straight to hell;
nobody's gonna make me confess -
And what is a killin' more or less.
My skin may be black, but by Christ! I fight;
I've slain a dozen, and each was white,
And none of 'em ever did me no harm,
And my conscience is clear - I've no alarm;
So I'll go where I sank Ol' Man Shay in the bog,
And spit in the water . . . Hot digitty dog!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert William Service

Robert William Service was a poet and writer sometimes referred to as the Bard of the Yukon He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North including the poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew The Law of the Yukon and The Cremation of Sam McGee His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was Robert William Service was born 16 January 1874 in Preston England but also lived in Scotland before emigrating to Canada in 1894 Service went to the Yukon Territory in 1904 as a bank clerk and became famous for his poems about this region which are mostly in his first two books of poetry He wrote quite a bit of prose as well and worked as a reporter for some time but those writings are not nearly as well known as his poems He travelled around the world quite a bit and narrowly escaped from France at the beginning of the Second World War during which time he lived in Hollywood California He died 11 September 1958 in France Incidentally he played himself in a movie called The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich more…

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    "Hot Digitty Dog" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 23 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/32173/hot-digitty-dog>.

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