the exhaustion and disruptions experienced by an Australian Light Horseman soldier during wartime

There’s Another Blessed Horse Fell Down

The physical and mental toll of combat

This poem utilizes humor and vivid imagery to convey the exhaustion and disruptions experienced by soldiers during wartime. Paterson takes a lighthearted approach to critiquing the difficulties faced while at war.

The poem ‘There’s Another Blessed Horse Fell Down‘ is structured as a dramatic monologue, with the speaker venting his frustrations to an unnamed listener about the horses collapsing and interrupting the soldiers’ scarce moments of rest. The frequent use of Australian vernacular gives the poem a casual, conversational tone.

Paterson vividly captures the back-breaking nature of war through scenes like cleaning the stalls littered with leaning, near-dead horses. The continuous disruptions leave soldiers so bone-tired that even loud crashes can’t wake them fully.

The comic climax comes when the speaker imagines even after surviving the war and returning home, he’ll be so conditioned to disturbances that his own wife stumbling downstairs won’t rouse him. Paterson humorously suggests the war has numbed soldiers to chaos.

While employing a light tone, Paterson also reveals the physical and mental toll of combat through the imagery of exhaustion, desensitization, and constant loss. The poem’s humor contains an undercurrent of criticism toward the grim realities of war.

By choosing an everyday nuisance – falling horses – as his focal point, Paterson entertainingly depicts war’s hardship without being overly bleak. The colloquial speech gives the poem a folksy quality, putting a human face on the drudgery of service.

There’s Another Blessed Horse Fell Down

When you’re lying in your hammock, sleeping soft and sleeping sound,
Without a care or trouble on your mind,
And there’s nothing to disturb you but the engines going round,
And you’re dreaming of the girl you left behind;
In the middle of your joys you’ll be wakened by a noise,
And a clatter on the deck above your crown,
And you’ll hear the corporal shout as he turns the picket out,
“There’s another blessed horse fell down.”

You can see ’em in the morning, when you’re cleaning out the stall,
A-leaning on the railings nearly dead,
And you reckon by the evening they’ll be pretty sure to fall,
And you curse them as you tumble into bed.
Oh, you’ll hear it pretty soon, “Pass the word for Denny Moon,
There’s a horse here throwing handsprings like a clown;”
And it’s shove the others back or he’ll cripple half the pack,
“There’s another blessed horse fell down.”

And when the war is over and the fighting all is done,
And you’re all at home with medals on your chest,
And you’ve learnt to sleep so soundly that the firing of a gun
At your bedside wouldn’t rob you of your rest;
As you lie in slumber deep, if your wife walks in her sleep,
And tumbles down the stairs and breaks her crown,
Oh, it won’t awaken you, for you’ll say, “It’s nothing new,
It’s another blessed horse fell down.”

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