George Essex Evans

(18 June 1863 – 10 November 1909 / London, England)

At The Base Hospital


The willows sweep the water, and the rushes lean a-down,
And I see the river shining far away,
With a snowy cloud above it, floating softly, like a crown,
And the water-hen and wildfowl at their play.
Are the magpies still at battle in the crooked appletrees?
Is the ripple flow still singing at the bar,
By the long-grassed sandstone pocket where the cattle lie at ease?
And the sun is on the river at Glenbar.
They are bringing in the dying, they are bearing out the dead,
And I watch the nurses moving to and fro,
In the long, low, white-washed wardroom, I lie dreaming on my bed,
And it may be that I, too, shall have to go.
But we faced the Mauser bullets when they whistled down the wind,
And we felt the fight we fought was worth a scar,
For we battled for the Empire and the land we left behind
And I battled for the honour of Glenbar.

Half-dead upon the barren veldt I heard the stockwhips crack
(’Twas the rattle of the Maxim’s deadly rain),
I was riding old Campaspe, as we wheeled the leaders back,
And brought them down the ridges to the plain.
I saw the slip-rails gleaming, and I heard the river flow—
Then Brenda’s face came shining like a star,
And we watched the water-finches, as they fluttered to and fro,
And the lilies on the river at Glenbar.

I’ve seen an army moving out a hundred thousand strong,
I’ve felt the thrill of battle and the smart,
But I’d barter all the glory for a day at Dandenong,
With the cool hand of the Bush upon my heart,
They say we drove their rifles back like chaff before the wind,
They say our name and fame have travelled far—
But my heart is full of hunger for the girl I left behind,
And the old folk by the river at Glenbar.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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