27 January 1917

Kaiser Wilhelm II with Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria, his brother Prince Heinrich of Prussia and Princess Irene on their way to church on the Kaiser’s birthday, 27 January 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 91849).

The Kaiser was holding a birthday, with feasting and revel and wine;
And the roar of his cannon re-echoed from Riga across to the Rhine.
Blaspheming the name of his Maker, mouthing a braggart boast,
He stood at his birthday table, and called for another toast.

“Here’s to my gallant allies, and here’s to them every one.
Since their God has been good and allowed them to share in my place in the sun!’
Then, spite of the burst of cheering, and spite of the drunken din,
There came a voice from the doorway-‘Pardon, may I come in?’

“Who is it that seeketh to enter?” a wondering Kaiser cried;
And ‘Only another ally,’ the same sleek voice replied;
“Only another ally, bringing his homage to you,
And rendering every honour where honour is surely due.”

Then the Kaiser looked down the table, to the guests who had come at his call –
Turco and arrogant Austrian, bargaining Bulgar and all.
“An Ally that I have forgotten? Then open my portals wide!”
So did they leap to his bidding-and the Devil stepped inside.

There he did stand in the doorway, looking around with a grin,
As he numbered his new-found comrades in their brotherhood of sin.
“Sir, I am proud to toast you, for ever since hell had birth
I had hoped to find the colleague who would open a branch on earth.”

Then he snapped his tapering wine glass as he swung on his heel to go,
And the wine ran down over the damask cloth like blood on the Belgian snow.
“Brothers,” he cried, “I leave you but not with a final toast;
To-night I stand your Unbidden Guest-to-morrow I’ll be your Host!”

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This entry was posted on January 27th, 2017.