Railway Tales
Said the Officer Commanding, ''Tis a pleasant Winter day
And I want a heap of blankets and I want 'em right away
And I want a lot of uniforms and overcoats and boots
To preserve the Martial Vigour of our promising recruits
For Napoleon, or Hannibal, or Caesar, I am told
Found soldiers fought much better when protected from the cold
And I trust my Observations are in Military Form
But I love my little Army, and I'd like to have it warm.'

And the Quartermaster answered with a wan official smile
'I shall send a Requisition in the Legal Form and Style
To the Acting Tenth Assistant in the Board of Speed Control
Who will docket it and poke it in the Proper Pigeonhole
When the eighteenth Under-Deputy has found it hiding there
He will specify and advertise with Customary Care
So, in time, they'll give a contract - though I cannot tell you when
But I think you'll get your blankets when the robins nest again.

Said the Officer Commanding, as he pulled his graying hair
'I should like to have some Rifles, if you have a few to spare
I should like to have some Cannon and a ton or so of Shell
Just any kind that's shootable will answer very well
For hostile guns are hurling Shot with personal intent
And Etiquette demands that we return the compliment.
Besides, they say that Wellington and Grane, and several more
Considered Weapons requisite to Victory in War.'

Said the Second Chief Retarder of the Board of War Delay
'We appreciate your ardour, but, you know, this isn't play
Through the skill of chosen experts, by applying every test
We must zealously determine what Invention is the best
Should the fortunate inventor be a personable man
Whom the Board delights to honour, we shall formulate a plan
Thus, observing Due Precautions, we shall bear your case in mind
And I'm sure you'll have your cannon when the peace is being signed.'

What a lesson to a Nation, eager, tense, and passion-flushed
Is a smoothly working Bureau that refuses to be rushed
With its calm, divine, aloofness, with its cold, judicial Staff
Like a great MIll, grinding grandly, though the Grist thereof be Chaff!
Pleas are fultile, needs are nothing, haste or change means Waste of Force
Men may starve or die, but matters still must take their course
Patience, patience! Great the system - slow, at times, yet sure as fate
What a pity, shame, and outrage that the enemy won't wait.
The end