Cicely Fox Smith
Basaco - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
The watchfires died away from the bivouac on the hill,
And o'er the mountain-tops the dawn crept cold and slow,
And in the morning sky the stars were shining still,
When up the steep hillside came the columns of the foe.
They saw but as they came sweeping onward, wave on wave,
The Rifles on the slope and the guns along the height,
But on the hollow hill, the bravest of the brave,
Grim and stern and still, waited eager for the fight.
Gaily, gaily streamed the foe from the misty dark ravine,
On with gleam of waving swords and with beating drums they pressed,
Till they topped the nearest ridge, that, dipping down unseen,
Held the Light Division hid in the hollow of the crest.
Closer still they came, and their leaders cheered them on,
And the Rifles from the rush drew back sullenly and slow,
And, glorying all too soon in the fight they deemed was won,
Up and o'er the hill came the columns of the foe.
'Charge! Charge! Hurrah!' rang the voice of Craufurd then,
'Remember gallant Moore that was slain but yesteryear!'
And hot-foot to the fight charged the leader and the men,
With a glint of British steel and a rousing British cheer.
Close against the foe thrice the ringing volleys spoke,
Lashed against their ranks the stinging storm of lead;
And the bayonet behind glittered grimly thro' the smoke;
Once they stood to fire: then they staggered, broke and fled.
Beaten, broken, flung from their foothold on the height,
Driven down like sheep to the reddened stream below,
Huddled, swept and torn from the fury of the fight,
Down and down the hill reeled the columns of the foe.
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