Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JAMESON'S RIDE, by ALFRED AUSTIN



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

JAMESON'S RIDE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wrong! Is it wrong? Well, may be
Last Line: Than the crushings of all the rand.
Subject(s): Jameson, Leander Starr (1853-1917); Transvaal, South Africa


Wrong! Is it wrong? Well, may be:
But I'm going, boys, all the same.
Do they think me a Burgher's baby,
To be scared by a scolding name?
They may argue, and prate, and order;
Go, tell them to save their breath:
Then, over the Transvaal border,
And gallop for life or death!

Let lawyers and statesmen addle
Their pates over points of law:
If sound be our sword, and saddle,
And gun-gear, who cares one straw?
When men of our own blood pray us
To ride to their kinsfolk's aid,
Not Heaven itself shall stay us
From the rescue they call a raid.

There are girls in the gold-reef city,
There are mothers and children too!
And they cry, 'Hurry up! for pity!'
So what can a brave man do?
If even we win, they'll blame us:
If we fail, they will howl and hiss.
But there's many a man lives famous
For daring a wrong like this!

So we forded and galloped forward,
As hard as our beasts could pelt,
First eastward, then trending northward,
Right over the rolling veldt;
Till we came on the Burghers lying
In a hollow with hills behind,
And their bullets came hissing, flying,
Like hail on an Arctic wind!

Right sweet is the marksman's rattle,
And sweeter the cannon's roar
But'tis bitterly bad to battle,
Beleagured, and one to four.
I can tell you it wasn't a trifle
To swarm over Krugersdorp glen,
As they plied us with round and rifle,
And ploughed us, again—and again.

Then we made for the gold-reef city,
Retreating, but not in rout.
They had called to us, 'Quick! for pity!'
And He said,'They will sally out.
They will hear us and come. Who doubts it?'
But how if they don't, what then?
'Well, worry no more about it,
But fight to the death, like men.'

Not a soul had supped or slumbered
Since the Borderland stream was cleft,
But we fought, ever more outnumbered,
Till we had not a cartridge left.
We're not very soft or tender,
Or given to weep for woe,
But it breaks one to have to render
One's sword to the strongest foe.

I suppose we were wrong, were madmen,
Still I think at the Judgment Day,
When God sifts the good from the bad men,
There'll be something more to say.
We were wrong, but we aren't half sorry,
And, as one of the baffled band,
I would rather have had that foray,
Than the crushings of all the Rand.





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