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- Songs of Action - 2/12 -

Beard on shoulder, stern and slow The Kaiserlics are riding from Cremona.

Just two hundred Irish lads are shouting on the wall; Four hundred more are lying who can hear no slogan call; But what's the odds of that, For it's all the same to Pat If he pays his debt in Dublin or Cremona.

Says General de Vaudray, 'You've done a soldier's work! And every tongue in France shall talk of Dillon and of Burke! Ask what you will this day, And be it what it may, It is granted to the heroes of Cremona.'

'Why, then,' says Dan O'Mahony, 'one favour we entreat, We were called a little early, and our toilet's not complete. We've no quarrel with the shirt, But the breeches wouldn't hurt, For the evening air is chilly in Cremona.'


Said Paul Leroy to Barrow, 'Though the breach is steep and narrow, If we only gain the summit Then it's odds we hold the fort. I have ten and you have twenty, And the thirty should be plenty, With Henderson and Henty And McDermott in support.'

Said Barrow to Leroy, 'It's a solid job, my boy, For they've flanked it, and they've banked it, And they've bored it with a mine. But it's only fifty paces Ere we look them in the faces; And the men are in their places, With their toes upon the line.'

Said Paul Leroy to Barrow, 'See that first ray, like an arrow, How it tinges all the fringes Of the sullen drifting skies. They told me to begin it At five-thirty to the minute, And at thirty-one I'm in it, Or my sub will get his rise.

'So we'll wait the signal rocket, Till . . . Barrow, show that locket, That turquoise-studded locket, Which you slipped from out your pocket And are pressing with a kiss! Turquoise-studded, spiral-twisted, It is hers! And I had missed it From her chain; and you have kissed it: Barrow, villain, what is this?'

'Leroy, I had a warning, That my time has come this morning, So I speak with frankness, scorning To deny the thing that's true. Yes, it's Amy's, is the trinket, Little turquoise-studded trinket, Not her gift--oh, never think it! For her thoughts were all for you.

'As we danced I gently drew it From her chain--she never knew it But I love her--yes, I love her: I am candid, I confess. But I never told her, never, For I knew 'twas vain endeavour, And she loved you--loved you ever, Would to God she loved you less!'

'Barrow, Barrow, you shall pay me! Me, your comrade, to betray me! Well I know that little Amy Is as true as wife can be. She to give this love-badged locket! She had rather . . . Ha, the rocket! Hi, McDougall! Sound the bugle! Yorkshires, Yorkshires, follow me!'

* * *

Said Paul Leroy to Amy, 'Well, wifie, you may blame me, For my passion overcame me, When he told me of his shame; But when I saw him lying, Dead amid a ring of dying, Why, poor devil, I was trying To forget, and not to blame.

'And this locket, I unclasped it From the fingers that still grasped it: He told me how he got it, How he stole it in a valse.' And she listened leaden-hearted: Oh, the weary day they parted! For she loved him--yes, she loved him - For his youth and for his truth, And for those dying words, so false.


What marks the frontier line? Thou man of India, say! Is it the Himalayas sheer, The rocks and valleys of Cashmere, Or Indus as she seeks the south From Attoch to the fivefold mouth? 'Not that! Not that!' Then answer me, I pray! What marks the frontier line?

What marks the frontier line? Thou man of Burmah, speak! Is it traced from Mandalay, And down the marches of Cathay, From Bhamo south to Kiang-mai, And where the buried rubies lie? 'Not that! Not that!' Then tell me what I seek: What marks the frontier line?

What marks the frontier line? Thou Africander, say! Is it shown by Zulu kraal, By Drakensberg or winding Vaal, Or where the Shire waters seek Their outlet east at Mozambique? 'Not that! Not that! There is a surer way To mark the frontier line.'

What marks the frontier line? Thou man of Egypt, tell! Is it traced on Luxor's sand, Where Karnak's painted pillars stand, Or where the river runs between The Ethiop and Bishareen? 'Not that! Not that! By neither stream nor well We mark the frontier line.

'But be it east or west, One common sign we bear, The tongue may change, the soil, the sky, But where your British brothers lie, The lonely cairn, the nameless grave, Still fringe the flowing Saxon wave. 'Tis that! 'Tis where THEY lie--the men who placed it there, That marks the frontier line.'


The Eastern day was well-nigh o'er When, parched with thirst and travel sore, Two of McPherson's flanking corps Across the Desert were tramping. They had wandered off from the beaten track And now were wearily harking back, Ever staring round for the signal jack That marked their comrades camping.

The one was Corporal Robert Dick, Bearded and burly, short and thick, Rough of speech and in temper quick, A hard-faced old rapscallion. The other, fresh from the barrack square, Was a raw recruit, smooth-cheeked and fair Half grown, half drilled, with the weedy air Of a draft from the home battalion.

Weary and parched and hunger-torn, They had wandered on from early morn, And the young boy-soldier limped forlorn, Now stumbling and now falling. Around the orange sand-curves lay, Flecked with boulders, black or grey, Death-silent, save that far away

Songs of Action - 2/12

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