I Killed a Man at Graspan by M. Grover

(The Tale of a Returned Australian Contingenter done into verse.)

I killed a man at Graspan,
I killed him fair in fight;
And the Empire's poets and the Empire's priests
Swear blind I acted right.
The Empire's poets and Empire's priests
Make out my deed was fine,
But they can't stop the eyes of the man I killed
From starin' into mine.
I killed a man at Graspan,
Maybe I killed a score;
But this one wasn't a chance-shot home,
From a thousand yards or more.
I fired at him when he'd got no show;
We were only a pace apart,
With the cordite scorchin' his old worn coat
As the bullet drilled his heart.
I killed a man at Graspan,
I killed him fightin' fair;
We came on each other face to face,
An' we went at it then and there.
Mine was the trigger that shifted first,
His was the life that sped.
An' a man I'd never a quarrel with
Was spread on the boulders dead.
I killed a man at Graspan;
I watched him squirmin' till
He raised his eyes, an' they met with mine;
An' there they're starin' still.
Cut of my brother Tom, he looked,
Hardly more'n a kid;
An', Christ! he was stiffenin' at my feet
Because of the thing I did.
I killed a man at Graspan;
I told the camp that night;
An' of all the lies that ever I told
That was the poorest skite.
I swore I was proud of my hand-to-hand,
An' the Boer I'd chanced to pot,
An' all the time I'd ha' gave my eyes
To never ha' fired that shot.
I killed a man at Graspan;
An hour ago about,
For there he lies with his starin' eyes,
An' his blood still tricklin' out.
I know it was either him or me,
I know that I killed him fair,
But, all the same, wherever I look,
The man that I killed is there.
I killed a man at Graspan;
My first and, God! my last;
Harder to dodge than my bullet is
The look that his dead eyes cast.
If the Empire asks for me later on
It'll ask for me in vain,
Before I reach to my bandolier
To fire on a man again.