William Henry Drummond

(13 April, 1854 – 6 April, 1907 / Mohill, County Leitrim)

The Dublin Fusilier - Poem by William Henry Drummond

Here's to you, Uncle Kruger! slainté!
an' slainté galore.
You 're a dacint ould man, begorra; never
mind if you are a Boer.
So with heart an' a half ma boucahl, we 'll
drink to your health to-night
For yourself an' your farmer sojers gave us a
damn good fight.

I was dramin' of Kitty Farrell, away in the
Gap o' Dunloe,
When the song of the bugle woke me, ringin'
across Glencoe;
An' once in a while a bullet came pattherin'
from above,
That tould us the big brown fellows were send-
in' us down their love.

'Twas a kind of an invitation, an' written in
such a han'
That a Chinaman could n't refuse it- not to
spake of an Irishman.
So the pickets sent back an answer. 'We're
comin' with right good will,'
Along what they call the kopje, tho' to me it
looked more like a hill.

'Fall in on the left,' sez the captain, 'my
men of the Fusiliers;
You 'll see a great fight this morning -like
you have n't beheld for years.'
'Faith, captain dear,' sez the sergeant, 'you
can bet your Majuba sword
If the Dutch is as willin' as we are, you never
spoke truer word.'

So we scrambled among the bushes, the bowl-
ders an' rocks an' all,
Like the gauger's men still-huntin' on the
mountains of Donegal;
We doubled an' turned an' twisted the same
as a hunted hare,
While the big guns peppered each other over
us in the air.

Like steam from the divil's kettle the kopje
was bilin' hot,
For the breeze of the Dutchman's bullets was
the only breeze we got;
An' many a fine boy stumbled, many a brave
lad died,
When the Dutchman's message caught him
there on the mountainside.

Little Nelly O'Brien, God help her! over
there at ould Ballybay,
Will wait for a transvaal letter till her face an'
her hair is grey,
For I seen young Crohoore on a stretcher, an'
I knew the poor boy was gone
When I spoke to the ambulance doctor,an' he
nodded an' then passed on.

'Steady there!' cried the captain, 'we must
halt for a moment here,'
An' he spoke like a man in trainin' , full winded
an' strong an' clear.
So we threw ourselves down on the kopje,
weary an' tired as death,
Waitin' the captain 's orders, waitin' to get a
breath.

It 's strange all the humours an' fancies that
comes to a man like me;
But the smoke of the battle risin' took me
across the sea-
It 's the mist of Benbo I 'm seein'; an' the
rock that we 'll capture soon
Is the rock where I shot the eagle, when I was
a small gosson.

I close my eyes for a minute, an' hear my poor
mother say,
'Patrick, avick, my darlin', you 're surely not
goin' away
To join the red-coated sojers?'- but the
blood in me was strong-
If your sire was a Connaught Ranger, sure
where would his son belong?

Hark! whisht! do you hear the music comin'
up from the camp below?
An odd note or two when the Maxims take
breath for a second or so,
Liftin' itself on somehow, stealin' its way up
here,
Knowin' there 's waitin' to hear it, many an
Irish ear.

Augh! Garryowen! you 're the jewel! an' we
charged on the Dutchman's guns,
An' covered the bloody kopje, like a Galway
greyhound runs,
At the top of the hill they met us, with faces
all set and grim;
But they could n't take the bayonet - that 's
the trouble with most of thim.

So of course, they 'll be praisin' the Royals
an' men of the Fusiliers,
An' the newspapers help to dry up the widows
an' orphans' tears,
An' they 'll write a new name on the colors-
that is, if there 's room for more
An' we 'll follow them thro' the battle, the same
as we 've done before.

But here 's to you, Uncle Kruger! slainté! an'
slainté galore.
After all, you 're a dacint Christian, never
mind if you are a Boer.
So with heart an' a half, ma boucahl, we 'll
drink to your health to-night,
For yourself an' your brown-faced Dutchmen
gave us a damn good fight.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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