West

'I've seen so much uv dirt an' grime
  I'm mad to 'ave things clean.
I've seen so much uv death,' 'e said --
'So many cobbers lyin' dead --
  You won't know wot I mean;
But, lad, I've 'ad so much uv strife
I want things straightened in my life.

'I've seen so much uv 'ate,' 'e said --
  'Mad 'ate an' silly rage --
I'm yearnin' for clear thoughts,' said 'e.
'Kindness an' love seem good to me.
  I want a new, white page
To start all over, clean an' good,
An' live me life as reel men should.'

We're sittin' talkin' by the fence,
  The sun's jist going' down,
Paintin' the sky all gold an' pink.
Said 'e, 'When it's like that, I think --'
  An' then 'e stops to frown.
Said 'e, 'I think, when it's jist so,
Uv ... God or somethin': I dunno.

'I ain't seen much uv God,' said 'e;
  'Not here nor Over There;
But, partly wot I've seen an' read,
An' partly wot the padre said,
  It gits me when I stare
Out West when it's like that is now.
There must be somethin' else -- some'ow.

'I've thought a lot,' said Digger Smith --
  'Out There I thought a lot.
I thought uv death, an' all the rest,
An' uv me mates, good mates gone West;
  An' it ain't much I've got;
But things get movin' in me 'ead
When I look over there,' 'e said.

'E's got me beat, 'as little Smith.
  I knoo 'im years ago:
I knoo 'im as a reel tough boy
'Oo roughed it up with 'oly joy;
  But now, well, I dunno.
An' when I ask Mar Flood she sighs --
An' sez 'e's got the Anzac eyes.

She sez 'e's got them soldier's eyes,
  That makes 'er own eyes wet.
An' we must give 'im wholesome food
An' lead 'is thoughts to somethin' good
  An' never let 'im fret.
But 'e ain't frettin', seems to me;
More - puzzled, fur as I can see.

The clouds above the hills was tore
  Apart, until some'ow,
It seemed like some big shinin' gate.
Said 'e, 'Why, lad, I tell yeh straight,
  I feel like startin' now,
An' walking on, an' on, an' thro',
Dead game an' - ain't it so to you?

'I've seen enough uv pain,' 'e said,
  'An' cursin', killin' 'ordes.
I ain't the man to smooge with God
To get to 'Eaven on the nod,
  Or 'owl 'ymns for rewards.
But this believin'? Why - Oh, 'Struth!
This never 'it me in me youth.

'They talk uv love 'twixt men,' said 'e.
  'That sounds dead crook to you.
But lately I 'ave come to see.' ...
''Old on,' I said; 'it seems to me
  There's love uv women too.
An' you?' 'E turns away 'is 'ead.
'I'm only 'alf a man,' 'e said.

'I've seen so much uv death,' said 'e,
  'Me mind is in a whirl.
I've 'ad so many thoughts uv late.' ...
Said I, 'Now tell me, tell me straight,
  Own up; ain't there a girl?'
Said 'e, 'I've done the best I can.
Wot does she want with 'arf a man?'

It weren't no use. 'E wouldn't talk
  Uv nothin' but that sky.
Said 'e, 'Now, dinkum, talking square,
When you git gazin' over there
  Don't you 'arf want to cry?
I wouldn't be surprised to see
An angel comin' out,' said 'e.

'Gone West!' said Digger Smith. 'Ah, lad,
  I've seen them goin' West,
An' often wonder, when I look,
If they 'ave 'ad it dealt 'em crook,
  Or if they've got the rest
They earned twice over by the spell
They spent down in that dinkum 'Ell.'

The gold was creepin' up, the sun
  Was 'arf be'ind the range.
It don't seem strange a man should cry
To see that glory in the sky --
  To me it don't seem strange.
'Digger!' said 'e. 'Look at it now!
There must be somethin' else -- some 'ow.'

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"West" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 6 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6817/west>.

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