Thomas William Hodgson Crosland was born in Leeds on July 21, 1865. He was among the most acerbic men of letters and journalists of his lifetime. An anti-Scottish Tory and Monarchist, a Methodist, Crosland earned his living as a Fleet Street reviewer, critic, and editor for journals like The Outlook, The Academy, and the Penny Illustrated Paper. A close friend of Lord Alfred Douglas, Crosland was notorious for his bitter attack on the Oscar Wilde who wrote De Profundis. His poems, in volumes such as Sonnets (1912), War Poems by X (1916), and Collected Poems (1917), reveal sympathy for the downtrodden, the English soldier, and the sick. A sufferer from diabetes and heart ailments for much of his middle age, he died on December 23, 1924, and was buried in the Finchley and St Mary-le-Bone Cemetery, London.
Source: Representative Poetry Online: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poet/419.html
Oh, Sergeant Death,
I've served with you,
And chanced my breath
A time or two!
I've seen brave men
Turn green as sin,
When you have coughed,
"Fall in, fall in!"
I've heard brave men
With cold fear shout,
When you have piped,
"Fall out, fall out!"
Where'er a lad
Would do his part,
'Tis you that probes
His inmost heart.
Though all be stirred
By drums a-roll,
'Tis you that finds
The soldier soul,
And takes him through
The conqueror's drill,
And helps him home,
Or leaves him still.
'Tis you that puts
In one parade
Them that were anxious
And them that were
Fed-up and sick,
And them that begged
You to be quick,
And them that gave
You laugh for laugh,
And bitterer chaff
For bitter chaff. . . .
Oh, you are old,
And fierce and wise,
But there is goodness
In your eyes.
And still your health
Goes round the tents--
"The Father of
Lieutenant Keen was "great," and yet
He would look over the parapet;
And something smacked him in the head,
And he lay down as dead as dead.
He sluttered down, all proud and grim,
And we set to and buried him;
All night he lay and took his rest
With lumps of Flanders on his breast.
All day he lay in Flanders ground
And rested, rested, good and sound;
But when the dog-star glittered clear
He calls, "By Jove, it's dark down here!"
"Sergeant, ain't I for rounds?" sings he,
"And where's the bally Company?"
And he was answered, with respect,
"Here, sir -- all present and correct!"
And -- sure as I'm a man -- at night
He comes along the trench, as white
And cheerful as the blessèd saints,
To see if there was "no complaints."
They cannot quieten that boy's ghost,
He'll have no truck with no "Last Post,"
They mark him "Killed," but you may swear
He's with us, be it foul or fair.
He goes before us like young fire,
A soldier of his soul's desire;
Through the hell-reek that smothers us,
He fathers us and mothers us.
When we have pushed the German swine
Across the pretty river Rhine,
Maybe he'll bide where he was spent
And lie down happy and content.