The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

Australians to the Front!

(Captain Cook hears the Drums)

From the Scheldt to the Niemen,

Hark, the music of the drums!

Not unthrilled the souls of freemen

When that instant message comes.

Rolling east the wild fantasia

Stirs the Orient blood to flame;

And the drums call Austral-asia

And she answers to her name.

Far away from hosts in battle,

Yet in time with marching feet

Here and now the war-drums rattle

In the sunbright city street.

Horse and foot in martial manner,

Swift commands, and glances high,

Naked steel and silken banner;

Thus the ranks go proudly by.

But within the gardens spacious,

Not a stone's throw from the crowd

One who fronts the landscape gracious

Listens to the war-drums loud.

Beats the eager drummer harder,

And methinks the bronze can hear,

In those eyes a flash of ardor!

On that cheek a noble tear!

Dauntless Captain, did'st thou ever,

With thy sailor-eyes of gray

Searching out from thy endeavor

That sequestered flower-starred bay,

Dream that some day those who love thee

Here would stake their all of worth,

For the flag that waved above thee

And the land that gave thee birth?

And the dauntless Captain listens:

Ah, if only he could speak!

But a vagrant raindrop glistens

On that scorched and blistered cheek,

And the faith that does not falter

Still may hear his whisper low:

"Son, this new land doth not alter

Britain's breed of long ago."