Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume I/A Ballad of a Drum
A BALLAD OF A DRUM
THE Austrians at Arcola
(The fight had lasted long),
The Austrians at Arcola—
Some fifty thousand strong—
Assailed the bridge whereto the French
(A fourth their strength) had come,
With menace dire, and murderous fire;
Then fled before a drum!
For Estienne at Arcola—
Heroic little lad!—
Seeing the carnage on the bridge,
With soul grown sick and sad,
Had sworn that he, at least, would pass
Beyond the sanguine tide,
And beat his drum, whate'er should come,
Upon the farther side.
So Estienne at Arcola—
No fear had he to die!—
With one brave Sergeant, swam the stream,
His precious drum held high,
And from the river dripping rose
Amid the battle's hum,
A French refrain, with might and main,
To pound upon his drum.
The Austrians at Arcola
Seemed fifty thousand strong,
But many were the raw recruits
Among that mighty throng,
Who hearing Frenchmen in the rear,
Listened, confused and dumb,
Then gave a shout,—"We're hemmed about!"
And fled—before a drum!
The courage shown at Arcola
By André Estienne—
The lesson taught at Arcola
Is wholesome now as then.
Needs there a moral to the tale?
Then read in this its sum:
The greatest strength may yield at length,
When sounds a hero's drum!