Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MUTINY YEAR, by PATRICK REGINALD CHALMERS



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THE MUTINY YEAR, by            
First Line: In the lumber-room I rummaged for some papers out of place
Last Line: His aunt jane had scored with butter at the local county show.
Subject(s): Numismatics; War; Coins, Commemorative; Medals, Historical


IN the lumber-room I rummaged for some papers out of place,
When I came—among the cobwebs—on a small morocco case,

Raised the lid and saw a medal, on its upturned side a date,
"I 857" graven on the tarnished laurelled plate.

'Twas enough, and ere I turned it in its faded velvet bed
Quite a host of recollections ran in riot through my head;

And from out the musty boxes, loved of spider and of mouse,
Came a half-forgotten story of an owner of the house.

Thus: A dusty roadway rises, and an Indian sun beats down
Where an English scouting party gallop in from Delhi Town.

On their flank the rebel rifles rattle out in sudden storms,
One full mile in front is shelter, where a sweating battery forms.

On they come in open order, through the danger zone they sweep,
Save the last, whose wounded Waler pecks, and pitches in a heap,

Struggles, shivers and lies quiet, while the trooper makes a run,
Tries to join his comrades halting under cover of the gun,

Where they breathe their sobbing horses, and the boy who's in command
Knocks the dust from off his tunic, numbers off his tattered band,

Throws a glance along the roadway where the bullets flick and bound,
Sees the distant, limping figure, swings his reeking Arab round,

Swears, and, sitting down to gallop, sends him racing back again,
Gets the trooper up in safety, spite the raking leaden rain,

And again defies the gauntlet of the glaring shot-swept road,
Till the Arab rocks and staggers into cover with his load!

This the story I remembered of those days by Delhi's gate,
As I read the magic figures of the medal's famous date.

Then it seemed to my romantic and unmilitary mind,
That some record of his riding might be found engraved behind.

So I turned it, and discovered that, some fifty years ago,
His Aunt Jane had scored with butter at the local county show.





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