There were fifteen men in green,
Each with a tommy-gun,
Who leapt into my plane at dawn;
We rose to meet the sun.
Our course lay to the east. We climbed
Into the break of day,
Until the jungle far beneath
Like a giant fossil lay.
We climbed towards the distant range
Where two white paws of cloud
Clutched at the shoulders of the pass.
The green men laughed aloud.
They did not fear the ape-like cloud
That climbed the mountain crest
And rode the currents of the air
And hid the pass in mist.
They did not fear the summer's sun
In whose hot centre lie
A hundred hissing cannon shells
For the unwatchful eye.
And when at Dobadura we
Set down, each turned to raise
His thumb towards the open sky
In mockery and praise.
But fifteen men in jungle green
Rose from the kunai grass
To come aboard, and my green men
In silence watched them pass:
It seemed they looked upon themselves
In a prophetic glass.
There were some leaned on a stick
And some on stretchers lay,
But few walked on their own two feet
In the early green of day.
They had not feared the ape-like cloud
That climbed the mountain crest;
They had not feared the summer's sun
With bullets for their breast.
Their eyes were bright, their looks were dull,
Their skin had turned to clay.
Nature had met them in the night
And stalked them in the day.
And I think still of men in green
On the Soputa track
With fifteen spitting tommy-guns
To keep a jungle back.