Mrs Godley’s War, 1917

Meet Mrs Godley, well to-do

Victorian in sober blue

and not content to chat and sit

No, Mrs Godley does her bit.


Or tries to, but it’s rather hard

her Peter joined the Old Boy’s Guard

her son went off to man a tank

but no one wants her in the ranks.


It seems a woman’s work in war

is more of what it was before:

ironing, cooking, washing, scrubbing

while they all give the Bosch a drubbing.


A zestful woman in a time

where bus drivers were old and blind

before they ever wore a dress.

No voice in church, committee-less


and wasted, really, like her friends.

So at her threadbare tether’s end

our Mrs Godley takes a stand

and grasps the war with eager hands.


Full-bodied like a vintage port

she scours the streets of Dovercourt

with firm resolve and hawk-like eyes

in search of snooping German spies.


And who’s this here? Suspicious pair

all nordic hue and flaxen hair,

peculiar manner, funny hats

no Englishman would dress like that!


You there boy, now are you willing?

Help your country! Earn a shilling!

Good lad. Operation Rhine:

go ask that brace of chaps the time.


She sends him with a zealous push

then darts behind a nearby bush

to listen as they answer him

and when they do the news is grim!


A stuttered mess of Zees and Vees

so Mrs Godley’s out the trees

flag wagging her white parasol

to fetch a military patrol.


Here they come now, almost quickly

(asthmatic, flat-feet, over fifty)

whistles blowing, touch of flap

inexpertly they seize chaps.


But later down the local nick

our heroine is feeling sick:

Belgians, Madam, no need for fuss,

best leave the espionage to us.

Your efforts might be better spent

on errands with a gentler bent.


So Mrs Godley set off home

embarrassed, patronised, alone

to measure out her life in jams

and wait for tragic telegrams.


L U K E   W R I G H T

@lukewrightpoet ||

Listen to Luke read this poem:


One thought on “Mrs Godley’s War, 1917

  1. Pingback: Mrs Godley’s War 1917 | Last Poppy Project

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