Cape Cod Ballads, and Other Verse eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 102 pages of information about Cape Cod Ballads, and Other Verse.

They ain’t no tears shed over him
  When he goes off ter war,
He gits no speech nor prayerful “preach”
  From mayor or governor;
He packs his little knapsack up
  And trots off in the van,
Ter start the fight and start it right,
  The Reg’lar Army man;
    The rattlin’, battlin’,
    Colt or Gatlin’,
  Reg’lar Army man.

He makes no fuss about the job,
  He do’n’t talk big or brave,—­
He knows he’s in ter fight and win,
  Or help fill up a grave;
He ain’t no “Mama’s darlin’,” but
  He does the best he can,
And he’s the chap that wins the scrap,
  The Reg’lar Army man;
    The dandy, handy,
    Cool and sandy,
  Reg’lar Army man.

* * * * *


A cloud of cinder-dotted smoke, whose billows rise and swell,
Thrust through by seething swords of flame that roar like blasts from hell;
A floor whose charring timbers groan and creak beneath the tread,
With starting planks that, gaping, show long lines of sullen red;
Great, hissing, scalding jets of steam that, lifting now, disclose
A crouching figure gripping tight the nozzle of a hose,
The dripping, rubber-coated form, scarce seen amid the murk,
Of Fireman Mike O’Rafferty attending to his work.

Pressed close against the blistered floor, he strives the fire to drown,
And slowly, surely, steadfastly, he fights the demon down;
And then he seeks the window-frame, all sashless, blank and bare,
And wipes his plucky Irish face and gasps a bit for air;
Then, standing on the slimy ledge, as narrow as his feet,
He hums a tune, and looks straight down six stories to the street;
Far, far below he sees the crowd’s pale faces flush and fade,
But Fireman Mike O’Rafferty can’t stop to be afraid.

Sometimes he climbs long ladders, through a fiery, burning rain
To reach a pallid face that glares behind a crackling pane;
Sometimes he feels his foothold shake with giddy swing and sway,
And barely leaps to safety as the crashing roof gives way;
Sometimes, penned in and stifling fast, he waits, with courage grim,
And hears the willing axes ply that strive to rescue him;
But sometime, somewhere, somehow, help may come a bit too late
For Fireman Mike O’Rafferty of Engine Twenty-eight.

And then the morning paper may have half a column filled
With, “Fire at Bullion’s Warehouse,” and the line, “A Fireman Killed”;
And, in a neat, cheap tenement, a wife may mourn her dead,
And all the small O’Raffertys go fatherless to bed
And he’ll not be a hero, for, you see, he didn’t fall
On some blood-spattered battle-field, slain by a rifle-ball;
But, maybe, on the other side, on God’s great roll of fame,
Plain Fireman Mike O’Rafferty’ll be counted just the same.

* * * * *

Project Gutenberg
Cape Cod Ballads, and Other Verse from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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