Ella Wheeler Wilcox |
It seemeth such a little way to me
Across to that strange country – the Beyond;
And yet, not strange, for it has grown to be
The home of those whom I am so fond,
They make it seem familiar and most dear,
As journeying friends bring distant regions near.
So close it lies, that when my sight is clear
I think I almost see the gleaming strand.
I know I feel those who have gone from here
Come near enough sometimes, to touch my hand.
I often think, but for our veiled eyes,
We should find heaven right round about us lies.
I cannot make it seem a day to dread,
When from this dear earth I shall journey out
To that still dear country of the dead,
And join the lost ones, so long dreamed about.
I love this world, yet shall I love to go
And meet the friends who wait for me, I know.
I never stand above a bier and see
The seal of death set on some well-loved face
But that I think ‘One more to welcome me,
When I shall cross the intervening space
Between this land and that one “over there”;
One more to make the strange Beyond seem fair.
And so for me there is no sting to death,
And so the grave has lost its victory.
It is but crossing – with a bated breath,
And white, set face – a little strip of sea,
To find the loved ones waiting on the shore,
More beautiful, more precious than before.
William Topaz McGonagall |
'Twas in the town of Sunderland, and in the year of 1883,
That about 200 children were launch'd into eternity
While witnessing an entertainment in Victoria Hall,
While they, poor little innocents, to God for help did call.
The entertainment consisted of conjuring, and the ghost illusion play,
Also talking waxworks, and living marionettes, and given by Mr.
And on this occasion, presents were to be given away,
But in their anxiety of getting presents they wouldn't brook delay,
And that is the reason why so many lives have been taken away;
But I hope their precious souls are in heaven to-day.
As soon as the children began to suspect
That they would lose their presents by neglect,
They rush'd from the gallery, and ran down the stairs pell-mell,
And trampled one another to death, according as they fell.
As soon as the catastrophe became known throughout the boro'
The people's hearts were brim-full of sorrow,
And parents rush'd to the Hall terror-stricken and wild,
And each one was anxious to find their own child.
Oh! it must have been a most horrible sight
To see the dear little children struggling with all their might
To get out at the door at the foot of the stair,
While one brave little boy did repeat the Lord's Prayer.
The innocent children were buried seven or eight layers deep,
The sight was heart-rending and enough to make one weep;
It was a most affecting spectacle and frightful to behold
The corpse of a little boy not above four years old,
Who had on a top-coat much too big for him,
And his little innocent face was white and grim,
And appearing to be simply in a calm sleep-
The sight was enough to make one's flesh to creep.
The scene in the Hall was heart-sickening to behold,
And enough to make one's blood run cold.
To see the children's faces, blackened, that were trampled to death,
And their parents lamenting o'er them with bated breath.
Oh! it was most lamentable for to hear
The cries of the mothers for their children dear;
And many mothers swooned in grief away
At the sight of their dead children in grim array.
There was a parent took home a boy by mistake,
And after arriving there his heart was like to break
When it was found to be the body of a neighbour's child;
The parent stood aghast and was like to go wild.
A man and his wife rush'd madly in the Hall,
And loudly in grief on their children they did call,
And the man searched for his children among the dead
Seemingly without the least fear or dread.
And with his finger pointing he cried.
"That's one! two!
Oh! heaven above, what shall I do;"
And still he kept walking on and murmuring very low.
Until he came to the last child in the row;
Then he cried, "Good God! all my family gone
And now I am left to mourn alone;"
And staggering back he cried, "Give me water, give me water!"
While his heart was like to break and his teeth seem'd to chatter.
Oh, heaven! it must have been most pitiful to see
Fathers with their dead children upon their knee
While the blood ran copiously from their mouths and ears
And their parents shedding o'er them hot burning tears.
I hope the Lord will comfort their parents by night and by day,
For He gives us life and He takes it away,
Therefore I hope their parents will put their trust in Him,
Because to weep for the dead it is a sin.
Her Majesty's grief for the bereaved parents has been profound,
And I'm glad to see that she has sent them £50;
And I hope from all parts of the world will flow relief
To aid and comfort the bereaved parents in their grief.
Robert William Service |
My job is done; my rhymes are ranked and ready,
My word-battalions marching verse by verse;
Here stanza-companies are none too steady;
There print-platoons are weak, but might be worse.
And as in marshalled order I review them,
My type-brigades, unfearful of the fray,
My eyes that seek their faults are seeing through them
Immortal visions of an epic day.
It seems I'm in a giant bowling-alley;
The hidden heavies round me crash and thud;
A spire snaps like a pipe-stem in the valley;
The rising sun is like a ball of blood.
Along the road the "fantassins" are pouring,
And some are gay as fire, and some steel-stern.
Then back again I see the red tide pouring,
Along the reeking road from Hebuterne.
And once again I seek Hill Sixty-Seven,
The Hun lines grey and peaceful in my sight;
When suddenly the rosy air is riven --
A "coal-box" blots the "boyou" on my right.
Or else to evil Carnoy I am stealing,
Past sentinels who hail with bated breath;
Where not a cigarette spark's dim revealing
May hint our mission in that zone of death.
I see across the shrapnel-seeded meadows
The jagged rubble-heap of La Boiselle;
Blood-guilty Fricourt brooding in the shadows,
And Thiepval's chateau empty as a shell.
Down Albert's riven streets the moon is leering;
The Hanging Virgin takes its bitter ray;
And all the road from Hamel I am hearing
The silver rage of bugles over Bray.
Once more within the sky's deep sapphire hollow
I sight a swimming Taube, a fairy thing;
I watch the angry shell flame flash and follow
In feather puffs that flick a tilted wing;
And then it fades, with shrapnel mirror's flashing;
The flashes bloom to blossoms lily gold;
The batteries are rancorously crashing,
And life is just as full as it can hold.
Oh spacious days of glory and of grieving!
Oh sounding hours of lustre and of loss!
Let us be glad we lived you, still believing
The God who gave the cannon gave the Cross.
Let us be sure amid these seething passions,
The lusts of blood and hate our souls abhor:
The Power that Order out of Chaos fashions
Smites fiercest in the wrath-red forge of War.
Have faith! Fight on! Amid the battle-hell
Love triumphs, Freedom beacons, all is well.
Adam Lindsay Gordon |
ALL is over! fleet career,
Dash of greyhound slipping thongs,
Flight of falcon, bound of deer,
Mad hoof-thunder in our rear,
Cold air rushing up our lungs,
Din of many tongues.
Once again, one struggle good,
One vain effort;—he must dwell
Near the shifted post, that stood
Where the splinters of the wood,
Lying in the torn tracks, tell
How he struck and fell.
Crest where cold drops beaded cling,
Small ear drooping, nostril full,
Glazing to a scarlet ring,
Flanks and haunches quivering,
Sinews stiffening, void and null,
Dumb eyes sorrowful.
Satin coat that seems to shine
Duller now, black braided tress
That a softer hand than mine
Far away was wont to twine,
That in meadows far from this
Softer lips might kiss.
All is over! this is death,
And I stand to watch thee die,
Brave old horse! with bated breath
Hardly drawn through tight-clenched teeth,
Lip indented deep, but eye
Only dull and dry.
Musing on the husk and chaff
Gathered where life’s tares are sown,
Thus I speak, and force a laugh,
That is half a sneer and half
An involuntary groan,
In a stifled tone—
‘Rest, old friend! thy day, though rife
With its toil, hath ended soon;
We have had our share of strife,
Tumblers in the masque of life,
In the pantomime of noon
Clown and pantaloon.
‘With a flash that ends thy pain,
Respite and oblivion blest
Come to greet thee.
I in vain
Fall: I rise to fall again:
Thou hast fallen to thy rest—
And thy fall is best
Eugene Field |
When Father Time swings round his scythe,
Entomb me 'neath the bounteous vine,
So that its juices, red and blithe,
May cheer these thirsty bones of mine.
"Elsewise with tears and bated breath
Should I survey the life to be.
But oh! How should I hail the death
That brings that--vinous grace to me!"
So sung the dauntless Saracen,
Whereat the Prophet-Chief ordains
That, curst of Allah, loathed of men,
The faithless one shall die in chains.
But one vile Christian slave that lay
A prisoner near that prisoner saith:
"God willing, I will plant some day
A vine where liest thou in death.
Lo, over Abu Midjan's grave
With purpling fruit a vine-tree grows;
Where rots the martyred Christian slave
Allah, and only Allah, knows!
William Butler Yeats |
They must to keep their certainty accuse
All that are different of a base intent;
Pull down established honour; hawk for news
Whatever their loose fantasy invent
And murmur it with bated breath, as though
The abounding gutter had been Helicon
Or calumny a song.
How can they know
Truth flourishes where the student's lamp has shone,
And there alone, that have no Solitude?
So the crowd come they care not what may come.
They have loud music, hope every day renewed
And heartier loves; that lamp is from the tomb.
William Henry Davies |
Thou shalt not laugh, thou shalt not romp,
Let's grimly kiss with bated breath;
As quietly and solemnly
As Life when it is kissing Death.
Now in the silence of the grave,
My hand is squeezing that soft breast;
While thou dost in such passion lie,
It mocks me with its look of rest.
But when the morning comes at last,
And we must part, our passions cold,
You'll think of some new feather, scarf
To buy with my small piece of gold;
And I'll be dreaming of green lanes,
Where little things with beating hearts
Hold shining eyes between the leaves,
Till men with horses pass, and carts.
William Topaz McGonagall |
'Twas after the great Majuba fight:
And the next morning, at daylight,
Captain Macbean's men were ordered to headquarters camp,
So immediately Captain Macbean and his men set out on tramp.
And there they were joined by the Blue Jackets and 58th men,
Who, for unflinching courage, no man can them condemn;
And that brave little band was commissioned to bury their dead,
And the little band numbered in all about one hundred.
And they were supplied with a white flag, fit emblem of death,
Then they started off to O'Neill's farm, with bated breath,
Where their comrades had been left the previous night,
And were lying weltering in their gore, oh! what a horrible sight.
And when they arrived at the foot of Majuba Hill,
They were stopped by a Boer party, but they meant no ill,
Who asked them what they wanted without dismay,
And when they said, their dead, there was no further delay.
Then the brave heroes marched on, without any dread,
To the Hill of Majuba to collect and bury their dead;
And to see them climbing Majuba it was a fearful sight,
And much more so on a dark pitch night.
And on Majuba there was a row of dead men,
Numbering about forty or fifty of them;
There were also numbers of wounded men lying on the ground,
And when Captain Macbean's party gazed on them their sorrow was profound.
Oh, heaven! what a sight of blood and brains!
While the grass was red all o'er with blood-stains;
Especially at the edge of the Hill, where the 92nd men were killed,
'Twas there that the eyes of Macbean's party with tears filled,
When they saw their dead and dying comrades in arms,
Who were always foremost in the fight during war's alarms;
But who were now lying dead on Majuba Hill,
And, alas! beyond the aid of all human skill.
They then went about two hundred yards down the Hill,
And collected fourteen more bodies, which made their blood run chill;
And, into one grave, seventy-five bodies they buried there,
All mostly 92nd men, who, I hope, are free from all care.
Oh! think of that gallant British band,
Who, at Majuba, made such a heroic stand,
And, take them altogether, they behaved like brave men,
But, alas! they were slaughtered like sheep in a pen.
Poor fellows! there were few of them left to retire,
Because undauntedly they faced that murderous fire,
That the mighty host poured in upon them, left and right,
From their numerous rifles, day and night.
The conduct of the 92nd was most brave throughout,
Which has always been the case, without any doubt;
At least, it has been the case in general with the Highland Brigade,
Because in the field they are the foremost, and seldom afraid.
And to do the British justice at Majuba they behaved right well,
But by overwhelming numbers the most of them fell,
Which I'm very sorry to relate,
That such a brave little band met with such a fate.
The commanders and officers deserve great praise,
Because they told their men to hold Majuba for three days;
And so they did, until the most of them fell,
Fighting nobly for their Queen and country they loved right well.
But who's to blame for their fate I'm at a loss to know,
But I think 'twas by fighting too numerous a foe;
But there's one thing I know, and, in conclusion, will say,
That their fame will be handed down to posterity for many a day!
William Topaz McGonagall |
On the Gilfillan burial day,
In the Hill o' Balgay,
It was a most solemn sight to see,
Not fewer than thirty thousand people assembled in Dundee,
All watching the funeral procession of Gilfillan that day,
That death had suddenly taken away,
And was going to be buried in the Hill o' Balgay.
There were about three thousand people in the procession alone,
And many were shedding tears, and several did moan,
And their bosoms heaved with pain,
Because they knew they would never look upon his like again.
There could not be fewer than fifty carriages in the procession that day,
And gentlemen in some of them that had come from far away,
And in whispers some of them did say,
As the hearse bore the precious corpse away,
Along the Nethergate that day.
I'm sure he will be greatly missed by the poor,
For he never turned them empty-handed away from his door;
And to assist them in distress it didn't give him pain,
And I'm sure the poor will never look upon his like again.
On the Gilfillan burial day, in the Hill o' Balgay,
There was a body of policemen marshalled in grand array
And marched in front of the procession all the way;
Also the relatives and friends of the deceas'd,
Whom I hope from all sorrows has been releas'd,
and whose soul I hope to heaven has fled away,
To sing with saints above for ever and aye.
The provost, magistrates, and town council were in the procession that day;
Also Mrs Gilfillan, who cried and sobbed all the way
For her kind husband, that was always affable and gay,
Which she will remember until her dying day.
When the procession arrived in the Hill o' Balgay,
The people were almost as hush as death, and many of them did say --
As long as we live we'll remember the day
That the great Gilfillan was buried in the Hill o'Balgay.
When the body of the great Gilfillan was lowered into the grave,
'Twas then the people's hearts with sorrow did heave;
And with tearful eyes and bated breath,
Mrs Gilfillan lamented her loving husband's death.
Then she dropped a ringlet of immortelles into his grave,
Then took one last fond look, and in sorrow did leave;
And all the people left with sad hearts that day,
And that ended the Gilfillan burial in the Hill o' Balgay.
Andrew Barton Paterson |
"You come and see me, boys," he said;
"You'll find a welcome and a bed
And whisky any time you call;
Although our township hasn't got
The name of quite a lively spot --
You see, I live in Booligal.
"And people have an awful down
Upon the district and the town --
Which worse than hell itself the call;
In fact, the saying far and wide
Along the Riverina side
Is 'Hay and Hell and Booligal'.
"No doubt it suits 'em very well
To say its worse than Hay or Hell,
But don't you heed their talk at all;
Of course, there's heat -- no one denies --
And sand and dust and stacks of flies,
And rabbits, too, at Booligal.
"But such a pleasant, quiet place --
You never see a stranger's face;
They hardly ever care to call;
The drovers mostly pass it by --
They reckon that they'd rather die
Than spend the night in Booligal.
"The big mosquitoes frighten some --
You'll lie awake to hear 'em hum --
And snakes about the township crawl;
But shearers, when they get their cheque,
They never come along and wreck
The blessed town of Booligal.
"But down to Hay the shearers come
And fill themselves with fighting-rum,
And chase blue devils up the wall,
And fight the snaggers every day,
Until there is the deuce to pay --
There's none of that in Booligal.
"Of course, there isn't much to see --
The billiard-table used to be
The great attraction for us all,
Until some careless, drunken curs
Got sleeping on it in their spurs,
And ruined it, in Booligal.
"Just now there is a howling drought
That pretty near has starved us out --
It never seems to rain at all;
But, if there should come any rain,
You couldn't cross the black-soil plain --
You'd have to stop in Booligal.
"We'd have to stop!" With bated breath
We prayed that both in life and death
Our fate in other lines might fall;
"Oh, send us to our just reward
In Hay or Hell, but, gracious Lord,
Deliver us from Booligal!"