The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

When the French Band Plays

THERE'S a military band that plays, on Sunday afternoons,

In a certain nameless city's quaint old square.

It can rouse the blood to battle with its patriotic tunes,

And still render hymns as gentle as a prayer.

When it starts "Ave Maria" there is no one in the throng

But would doff his cap, his heart to heaven raise;

And who would shrink from combat when, with brasses sounding strong,

There is flung out on the breeze "La Marseillaise"?

When it starts to render "Sambre et Meuse," the march that won the day

At the battle of the Marne, one sees again

The grey-green hosts of Hundom melt before the stern array

Of our gallant sister-ally's blue-clad men.

And when it plays our Anthem, with rendition bold and clear--

While the khaki lads stand steady--then we feel

That, though tongues and ways may vary, we've found brothers over here,

Tried in war, and in allegiance true as steel.

For it's olive-drab, horizon-blue, packed closely side by side,

Till their colors set ablaze the grey old square;

And it's olive-drab, horizon-blue, whatever may betide,

That will blaze the way to victory "up there."

So, while standing thus together, let us pledge anew our troth

To the Cause--the world set free!--for which we fight.

As the evening twilight gilds the ranks of blue and khaki both,

And the the bugles die away into the night