Sydney Thompson Dobell

(1824-1874 / England)

Bayonet Song - Poem by Sydney Thompson Dobell

Fire away, fire away, boys must have their play,
There'll be hard work yet
Before sunset:
But what of the day when the boys have had their play?
When the boys have played, why then,
Aha!
'Twill be time for the men,
Hurrah!
And the bayonet!
But, men, as we've nothing to do till then,
And the match is on out there,
I think you and I may as well stand by
And see that the game goes fair.


No drummer! no tambourettes,
The earth is our drum wherever we come,
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets,
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets,
Where's the drumstick that ever could beat,
Where's the drumhead that ever could drum,
Like the mighty foot of our thousand feet,
And the earth that is dumb till we come and come?
Come and come and come and come
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets.


'Love your enemy'-yes, 'tis the Briton's grace!
I love him so well that I'd see his face.
Yon little ninepins all in a row,
How can I tell if I love 'em or no?
So hurrah, lads, up we go!
Here's to our nearer meeting,
And if when we come within greeting
I see my own special foe,
I'll leave him to Tom or John,
And find my work further on,
And perhaps he and I will shake hands by and bye
Side by side as we lie
(To-night on the gory slope of the hill
As the dew-tears drop from the sky above
At the silent thought
Of the friends whom we love
Better still),
And wait for the surgeon's cart
That's always coming and never comes,
And when a couple of bearers pass
I'll give him my turn,
Tho' the flesh-wounds smart,
And the bone-wounds burn,
And the life-tide's running dry
Because he's my enemy.
But that's when I've spiked up John's and Tom's
And Rosie's and Poll's and Marjorie's
And little Jack's and todlin May's
And the victory's won and the bloody day's
Done, and of flesh that is grass
Along the braes the bloody hay's
Made, that is made, hurrah!
With the bayonet.


For till you show me the Sacred Word
I'm for Peter and his good sword,
Only I hope if we'd drilled him here
He'd not have missed the head for the ear.


Gods, I'd give a Life's delights
To have been there that night of nights,
With ten such men as I see here now,
When they spat their sin on the Sinless Brow
And struck Him without let,-
And have heard the ten steels clash at my call
And seen the ten steels flash in the hall
As we did them all up to the wall,
High Priest, low Priest, Romans and all,


Great and small up to the wall,
Up to the wall with the bayonet.
I would keep or lose my right hand
By the love of every man here
For the dear native land.
There is not a man here this day
Of whom come what come can
I could speak with an accent of scorn.


Who feels his courage grow colder
At sight of the foe,
Whose conscience is bolder
Because we are shoulder to shoulder,
Who goes up the hill because we are men
And not because he is man,
He shall serve his country yet
But not with the bayonet.


Well done-I like your eyes,
Neither sunrise
Nor sunset.
Well done-I know the grips
That will tell to barrel and stock
What the beard hides on the lips:
No strain on the rein, no tug on the slips.
No drummer! no tambourettes!
The earth is our drum wherever we come,
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets,
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets,
Where's the drumstick that ever could beat,
Where's the drumhead that ever could drum,
Like the mighty foot of our thousand feet,
And the earth that is dumb till we come and come?
Till we come and come and come and come,
Bayonets, bayonets, bayonets, bayonets!


You are not dogs but Lions, and who
Holds Lions in leash? Hurrah,
My Lions! with just such a pack
I'd hunt down the gods of Olympus! Alack,
This mount is all an Olympus. Up there
You see the bird-popping goddikins-ten
To one I'll warrant you-bah!
What then?
Who cares while theirs is the ten to the one
And ours is the one to the ten?
Were't one to twenty which of us would shirk
The odds or the glory? You see
How the land lies?
This fox-cover up the long rise,
Then fifty paces of open, and then the breast-work.
Scatter the pack in cover, make them cast wide,
From wood-side to wood-side.
Go in like hounds and come out
At the top like men and lions-full swing
Up the wood, but when it's grey-blue
Overhead come together like men.
A halt for breath,
Slow-time and still as death
To the covert-edge, and then
The rush and the roar and the spring!
Hunt's up, my Lions, hie in, hurrah!


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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