Pictures in Rhyme/At Kassassin

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AT KASSASSIN

Rained on all day by the sun,
Beating through helmet and head,
Through to the brain.
Inactive, no water, no bread,
We had stood on the desolate plain
Till evening shades drew on amain;
And we thought that our day's work was done,
When, lo!it had only begun.


'Charge!'And away through the night,
Toward the red flashes of light
Spurting in fire on our sight,
Swifter and swifter we sped.
'Charge!'At that word of command,
On through the loose-holding sand,
On through the hot, folding sand,
Through hailstorms of iron and lead,
Swifter and swifter we sped.
Thud! fell a friend at my hand;
No halt, ne'er a stay, nor a stand.
What though a comrade fell dead?
Swifter and swifter we sped.


Only the red, flashing light
Guided our purpose aright;
For night was upon us, around,
Deceptive in sight as in sound.
We knew not the enemy's ground,
We knew not his force;
But on, gaining pace at each bound,
Flew man and horse.


Burst on the enemy's flank,
On through his gunners and guns,
Swifter and swifter we sped;
Over each bayonet-ranged rank,
Earthward their dusky waves sank,
Scattered and fled.
They ran as a startled flock runs;
But still we pursued o'er the plain,
Till the rising moon counted the slain,
And some hundred Egyptians lay dead.


Oh!'twas a glorious ride,
And I rode on the crest of the tide.
We dashed them aside like the mud of the street,
We threshed them away like the chaff from the wheat,
We trod out their victory under our feet,
And charged them again and again;
For demons were loose on the hot-breathing wind,
And entered the souls of our men.
A feverish delight filled our bones,
Heightened by curses and groans—
The mind taking hold of the body, the body reacting on mind.


Ha!'twas a glorious ride,
Though I miss an old friend from my side,
And sadness is mingled with pride.
Still, 'twas a glorious ride—
That race through the darkness, the straining, the shock,

The struggle, and slaughter by Kassassin lock.