Look at His Left Lapel [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Look at His Left Lapel.

Look at his left lapel.
See if he’s single-and-fit;
See if he’s been through hell,
See if he’s done his bit.

* * * * *

Look at him fair and square,
Look at him up and down;
Has he shouldered a warrior’s share
Where the world is bruised and brown?
Has he sweltered on Egypt’s sands?
Has he seen Gallipoli grim?
Has he buried with hasty hands,
Billy and Bob and Jim?
Did he hear in the far outback
The bugle and side-drum taps?
Did he hear in the cordite crack
The call of the gun-made gaps?
If he fought and, in fighting, fell,
Look at his left lapel!

That is the soldier’s sign,
That is the mark of a man;
A link of the battle-line
First when the fuss began.
One who was in the ranks
When the training camps were bush
Back from the Jordan’s banks,
Back from the Western Push.
This is the battle-badge,
His babes to be shall prize,
Johnny and Mark and Madge
When the world has ceased its sighs.
That sign shall the story tell —
Look at his left lapel!

Battered and bronzed and browned,
You are back from the work of war.
A king of courage, uncrowned,
A saviour of men — and more!
You stiffened that hero-wall
Where the missiles of death were hurled;
You saved from a ravisher’s thrall
The women far over the world.
And while on the stay-at-home’s face
Their glances burn like coals,
Your limp is the gait of grace,
You who have saved their souls,
Each homaging bosom swells
As they look at your left lapels!

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, page 78

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 11 February 1917, p. 8

Editor’s notes:
This poem refers to the left lapels of those who served in wartime, where they would wear their returned servicemen’s badges.

cordite = a smokeless explosive, composed of cellulose nitrate (nitrocellulose), nitroglycerine, and petroleum jelly, which is used in ammunition, especially in bullets

taps = a tune, played by bugle or drum, which is given at night in military establishments as a signal that all lights are to be put out; the tune is also played at military funerals and memorial services

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