A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."
Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.
A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!
No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
Strike hard who cares -- shoot straight who can --
The odds are on the cheaper man.
One sword-knot stolen from the camp
Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.
With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
The troopships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
To slay Afridis where they run.
The "captives of our bow and spear"
Are cheap, alas! As we are dear.
Poesie in lingua straniera
If recollecting were forgetting,
Then I remember not,
And if forgetting, recollecting,
How near I had forgot,
And if to miss, were merry,
And to mourn, were gay,
How very blithe the fingers
That gathered this, today!
There's something quieter than sleep
Within this inner room!
It wears a sprig upon it's breast -
And will not tell it's name.
Some touch it, and some kiss it -
Some chafe it's idle hand -
It has a simple gravity
I do not understand!
I would not weep if I were they -
How rude in one to sob!
Might scare the quiet fairy
Back to her native wood!
While simple-hearted neighbors
Chat of the "Early dead" -
We - prone to periphrasis,
Remark that Birds have fled!
If she had been the Mistletoe
And I had been the Rose -
How gay upon your table
My velvet life to Close -
Since I am of the Druid -
And she is of the dew -
I'll deck Tradition's buttonhole
And send the Rose to you.
Could live - did live -
Could die - did die -
Could smile upon the whole
Through faith in one he met not -
To introduce his soul -
Could go from scene familiar
To an untraversed spot -
Could contemplate the journey
With unpuzzled heart -
Such trust had one among us -
Among us not today -
We who saw the launching
Never sailed the Bay.