Jessie Pope, “War Girls” (1916)
Like her poem “The Call,” Jessie Pope’s “War Girls” gives voice to jingoistic patriotism. But the language and action of the poem also revel in the opportunities for empowerment that the war has created for women: they are “no longer caged and penned up,” but tackling “jobs with energy and knack.”
There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They’re out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They’re going to keep their end up
Till the khaki boys come marching back.
There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There’s the girl who cries ‘All fares, please!’ like a man,
And the girl who whistles taxis up the street.
Beneath each uniform
Beats a heart that’s soft and warm,
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
But a solemn statement this is,
They’ve no time for love and kisses
Till the khaki soldier boys come marching home.