THE KISS TO THE FLAG
Ta ra! Boom boom! A regiment is coming down
From every side an eager throng is hurrying to greet
From overflowing sidewalk and densely crowded square,
A brilliant, uniformed cortege whose music fills the air;
For such a gorgeous spectacle is not seen every day;
It gives the town a festival to view the fine array;
All hearts are filled with happiness, and no one seems to lag,
When he has thus a chance to see the soldiers ... and the flag.
The old retired officers, their hats like helmets worn,
Have thrust them gaily on one side at sound of drum and horn;
The eldest, whose brave heart is stirred by that familiar strain,
Surmounts, with stifled sigh, his chair, a better view to gain;
Cafes, salons, mansards alike their windows open throw,
And pretty girls wear radiant smiles to greet the passing show.
Ah, here they are! Yes, here they come! preceded by the boys,
Who imitate in fashion droll, yet with no actual noise,
But merely by the gesturing of finger or of hand,
The cymbals, flute, and (best of all) the trombones of the band.
The babies even laugh and crow, upheld in nurses’ arms,
And have no fear of trumpets loud, or the bass-drum’s alarms.
The pavement of the boulevard is struck in perfect time;
Six hundred echoes blend in one, and make the scene sublime;
Six hundred hearts are throbbing there, imbued with martial pride;
Twelve hundred feet with rhythmic beat make but a single stride.
United, too, are all the hearts of those whose eyes pursue
With admiration every line now passing in review.
But when a gallant regiment appears thus on parade,
A little vain of its fine looks, and conscious of its grade,
Each soldier, (since a time of peace allows him to be gay),
Aspires to be attentive to the ladies on the way,
And stares at every pretty face, with no wish to be rude,
But, then, you know, a regiment is never quite ... a prude!
And this explains why Captain Short has said to Captain Tall,
Despite the order which enjoins strict silence upon all,
“A lovely girl!” “Is that so?
Where?” “Beside the window there.”
“By Jove! I’d like to know her. She is divinely fair!”
Then both a little thoughtfully move on with some regret,
And now the entire regiment the lovely girl has met;
Across the broad, resplendent ranks she looks now
left, now right,
Now straight before her, but as yet no smiles her features light;
More than one mounted officer, with flashing sabre, wheels
His well-groomed horse, and calls to him the sergeant at his heels;
And makes excuse of some detail, endeavoring the while,
Perhaps half consciously, to win the favor of a smile.
In vain; the glance he hopes to gain, as hero of her heart,
Comes not; but rank forbids delay, he must at once