Arthur Conan Doyle ( )

The Guards Came Through (1919). 8. The Volunteer


The dreams are passed and gone, old man,
	That came to you and me,
Of a six days' stunt on an east coast front,
	And the Hun with his back to the sea.

Lord, how we worked and swotted sore
	To be fit when the day should come!
Four years, my lad, and five months more,
	Since first we followed the drum.

Though "Follow the drum" is a bit too grand,
	For we ran to no such frills;
It was just the whistles of Nature's band
	That heartened us up the hills.

That and the toot of the corporal's flute,
	Until he could blow no more,
And the lilt of "Sussex by the Sea,"
	The marching song of the corps.

Those hills! My word, you would soon get fit,
	Be you ever so stale and slack,
If you pad it with rifle and marching kit
	To Rotherfield Hill and back!

Drills in hall, and drills outdoors,
	And drills of every type,
Till we wore our boots with forming fours,
	And our coats with "Shoulder hipe!"

No glory ours, no swank, no pay,
	One dull eventless grind;
Find yourself, and nothing a day
	Were the terms that the old boys signed.

Just drill and march and drill again,
	And swot at the old parade,
But they got two hundred thousand men.
	Not bad for the old brigade!

A good two hundred thousand came,
	On the chance of that east coast fight;
They may have been old and stiff and lame,
	But, by George, their hearts were right!

Discipline! My! "Eyes right!" they cried,
	As we passed the drill hall door,
And left it at thatso we marched cock-eyed
	From three to half-past four.

And solid! Why, after a real wet bout
	In a hole in the Flanders mud,
It would puzzle the Boche to fetch us out,
	For we couldn't get out if we would!

Some think we could have stood war's test,
	Some say that we could not,
But a chap can only do his best,
	And offer all he's got.

Fall out, the guard! The old home guard!
	Pile arms! Right turn! Dismiss!
No grousing, even if it's hard
	To break our ranks like this.

We can't show much in the way of fun
	For four and a half years gone;
If we'd had our chancejust one! just one!
	Carry on, old Sport, carry on! 

Arthur Conan Doyle's other poems:
  1. The Guards Came Through (1919). 12. The Bigot
  2. The Guards Came Through (1919). 11. The Wreck on Loch McGarry
  3. Songs of the Road (1911). 12. Bendy's Sermon
  4. Songs of the Road (1911). 17. Man's Limitation
  5. The Guards Came Through (1919). 2. Victrix

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