Fifes and Drums/It Is Better

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The khaki lads with drum and fife
    March down Fifth Avenue.
Their eyes are eager for the strife
    That moulds the world anew . . .
    And you—and what of you?

It is better to travel a bloody track
    And come home dead or maimed—
It is better to go and never come back,
    Than to stay and die ashamed.

The lads in khaki sweep on past,
    All straight and straight aligned.
When the rattle of drums is gone at last,
    What is there stays behind?—
    Not a thing remains behind.

'Twas our country's very self marched by.
    And many a man may fall—
But it's better to live the hour you die
    Than never to live at all.

Louis How.