Pieces People Ask For/The Song of the Drum

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Dr-r-rum! Dr-r-rum!
Dr-r-rum! Drum! Drum!
With a rap, and a tap, and a rolling beat,
And a sound on the ground of the tramp of feet,
Keeping step they come,
With the sound of the drum,
With the rolling and the beating of the drum.

And away fly the people as if driven for their lives!
Scudding out as if possessed from their daily human hives,
With a flurry,
And a scurry,
In a most outrageous hurry,

Out of counting house and office,
                                  Out of store and room and shop,
Don't ask them any questions,
                                  For they haven't time to stop,
                                  Till they meet in the street,
                                  Touching shoulders, crushing feet,
Millionnaire and humble tradesman, and the man who toils for bread,
And up in one direction turned is every eager head.

                                                 Hear the crowd
                                                 Cry aloud!
                                What a mixed and motley set!
                                                 And anon
                                                 Running on
                                While the drum is distant yet,
                                Making every one forget
Any business on which the mind is set.

                       Oh, the drum is full of life!
                       And its stirring pound is rife
With an inspiration wonderful to break the listless mood
                       Of the indolent, and all,
                       When its martial echoes fall,
Like the touch of sudden fire to excite the sluggish blood.
                       And this is the song.
                       As the soldiers march along,
                       Head erect — keeping time
                       To the rolling and the rhyme
Of the quick reiteration of the drummers hollow chime.

                                "Fame is eternal—glories supernal,
                                Heroes the wreaths shall share,
                                Victors the crowns shall wear.
                                                  March on!
                                              Brave and true,
                                                  Steady, on!
                                              Dare and do;
                  On to the contest whose struggle elates you!
                  On for the conflict where duty awaits you!
                            There is the foe—advance and attack!
                            Drive every enemy—back—back—
                  Who cares for pain or for danger or woe?
                  Here are our colors — and there is the foe!"

And so begins the fight,
                   (God knows how it may end!)
But we strive for the right,
                   (May God the right defend!)
             For country and for home,
             For freedom and for truth,
And freely to that cause we give the sturdy strength of youth,
And freely in that cause we shed the blood that makes it strong,
While we march to death and glory to the drum's inspiring song.

· · · · ·

                  Again, all is still.
                  On the side of the hill
        Lies silent the camp in the shadow of night,
               The soldiers are sleeping;
        The sentinel walks in the moon's silver light,
               His silent watch keeping.
        Hark! What is that? 'tis a step. "Who goes there?"
        No answer—black forms swiftly darken the air!
        The enemy comes! awake! AWAKE!
        How terrible are the alarms that break
        On the ear of the sleeper, and call him for war!

    Hear the roll—hear the call—hear the hurried command,
    Not a breath—still as death—the regiments stand.
        Forward ! Advance and attack! Where? There!
        See the dark forms through the dew-laden air!
        Cannons roar — bullets pour — squadrons march,
        Battalions — companies — regiments, charge!
    And all the red front of the terrible fight
    Glows like the conflict of demons at night.
            Still, hearts are but human,
                   Man, born of woman,
        Seeing his brother fall, all his flesh creeps,
        Seeing unheeded fresh wounds all bleeding,
        Sick of the sight of war, shudders and weeps.

And the soldier sheds tears
On the face of his foe.
And the drummer is dumb
In the sight of that woe.

Now when the hero lies silent in death,
The end having come
Shorn of its echoing glory, what saith
The dull muffled drum?

"Soldier sleep—
Soldier, rest—
In the breast of the earth whence we come,
          We come!
        All your toil
Is done,
And the fight
Is won.
Soldier, sleep—Soldier, rest!" says the drum,

And this is the song, as we march along.
That the hollow drum sings to the gathering throng;
With the rap, and the tap, and the rolling beat,
With the sound on the ground of the tramp of feet,
Keeping step they come,
With the sounding drum,
With the rolling and the beating of the drum.

I. E. Diekenga