Anonymous manuscript First World War narrative poem titled 'The Message of the King', concerning a blinded soldier who asks a doctor to kill him.
Four pages, 4to. Bifolium. Good, on lightly-aged ruled paper, with watermark 'D. K & Co. | LONDON'. Sixty-four lines, arranged in eight eight-line stanzas. Apparently unpublished. Evocative of the sensibilities of a more naive age: sincerely meant, but coming across somewhat in the style of a Stanley Holloway monologue. First stanza: 'The hospital ward was cheerful | In spite of the suffering ones there | For each patient who lay there so helpless | Was studied and thought of with care | The doctors and nurses spoke kindly | As they went around to each bed | And the patients had learned to love them | For the things they had done and had said.' The poem proceeds with 'one of the sufferers' , who had been blinded 'during the war with the Germans' asking a nurse 'if she'd give him something | To send him to sleep till he died'. A doctor responds 'It's more than I dare do [...] I must get His Majesty's sanction'. The royal response is: 'Tell your patient to quickly recover | The king needs him although he is blind'. At this the patient makes a rapid recovery, and goes to the Palace, where he does 'little odd duties | Employing his time for the best'. The 'theme' of the poem, in the last line, is 'That the King hath need of us all.' From the papers of Captain Henry Wentworth Windsor Aubrey (c.1859-1934), M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., who was stationed at R.A.M.C. Delhi Barracks, Tidworth, Wiltshire, during the Great War.