With bray of the trumpet
And roll of the drum,
And keen ring of bugle,
The cavalry come.
Sharp clank the steel scabbards,
The bridle-chains ring,
And foam from red nostrils
The wild chargers fling.

Tramp! tramp! O’er the greensward
That quivers below,
Scarce held by the curb-bit
The fierce horses go!
And the grim-visaged colonel,
With ear-rending shout,
Peals forth to the squadrons
The order “Trot out!”

One hand on the sabre,
And one on the rein,
The troopers move forward
In line on the plain.
As rings the word “Gallop!”
The steel scabbards clank,
And each rowel is pressed
To a horse’s hot flank:
And swift is their rush
As the wild torrent’s flow,
When it pours from the crag
On the valley below.

“Charge!” thunders the leader:
Like shaft from the bow
Each mad horse is hurled
On the wavering foe.
A thousand bright sabres
Are gleaming in air;
A thousand dark horses
Are dashed on the square.

Resistless and reckless
Of aught may betide,
Like demons, not mortals,
The wild troopers ride.
Cut right! and cut left!
For the parry who needs?
The bayonets shiver
Like wind-shattered reeds.
Vain — vain the red volley
That bursts from the square,
The random-shot bullets
Are wasted in air.
Triumphant, remorseless,
Unerring as death,
No sabre that’s stainless
Returns to its sheath.

The wounds that are dealt
By that murderous steel
Will never yield case
For the surgeon to heal.
Hurrah! they are broken
Hurrah! boys, they fly
None linger save those
Who but linger to die.

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Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
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