Successful Recitations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about Successful Recitations.

    And the pipers’ ribbons and tartan stream’d
      Marching round and round our line;
    And our joyful cheers were broken with tears,
      For the pipes play’d “Auld Lang Syne.”

A BALLAD OF WAR.

BY MENELLA BUTE SMEDLEY.

(By permission of Messrs. Isbister & Co.)

    “Oh! were you at war in the red Eastern land? 
      What did you hear, and what did you see? 
    Saw you my son, with his sword in his hand? 
      Sent he, by you, any dear word to me?”

    “I come from red war, in that dire Eastern land;
      Three deeds saw I done one might well die to see;
    But I know not your son with his sword in his hand;
      If you would hear of him, paint him to me.”

    “Oh, he is as gentle as south winds in May!”
      “’Tis not a gentle place where I have been.” 
    “Oh, he has a smile like the outbreak of day!”
      “Where men are dying fast, smiles are not seen.”

    “Tell me the mightiest deeds that were done. 
      Deeds of chief honour, you said you saw three: 
    You said you saw three—­I am sure he did one. 
      My heart shall discern him, and cry, ‘This is he!’”

    “I saw a man scaling a tower of despair,
      And he went up alone, and the hosts shouted loud.” 
    “That was my son!  Had he streams of fair hair?”
      “Nay; it was black as the blackest night-cloud.”

    “Did he live?” “No; he died:  but the fortress was won,
      And they said it was grand for a man to die so.” 
    “Alas for his mother!  He was not my son. 
      Was there no fair-hair’d soldier who humbled the foe?”

    “I saw a man charging in front of his rank,
      Thirty yards on, in a hurry to die: 
    Straight as an arrow hurled into the flank
      Of a huge desert-beast, ere the hunter draws nigh.”

    “Did he live?” “No; he died:  but the battle was won,
      And the conquest-cry carried his name through the air. 
    Be comforted, mother; he was not thy son;
      Worn was his forehead, and gray was his hair.”

    “Oh! the brow of my son is as smooth as a rose;
      I kissed it last night in my dream.  I have heard
    Two legends of fame from the land of our foes;
      But you said there were three; you must tell me the third.”

    “I saw a man flash from the trenches and fly
      In a battery’s face; but it was not to slay: 
    A poor little drummer had dropp’d down to die,
      With his ankle shot through, in the place where he lay.

    “He carried the boy like a babe through the rain,
      The death-pouring torrent of grape-shot and shell;
    And he walked at a foot’s pace because of the pain,
      Laid his burden down gently, smiled once, and then fell.”

    “Did he live?” “No; he died:  but he rescued the boy. 
      Such a death is more noble than life (so they said). 
    He had streams of fair hair, and a face full of joy,
      And his name”—­“Speak it not!  ’Tis my son!  He is dead!

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Successful Recitations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.