Marching On

Original Text: 
The Collected Poems of T. W. H. Crosland (London: Martin Secker, 1917): 93-95. PR 4518 C686A17
I
1I heard the young lads singing
2     In the still morning air,
3Gaily the notes came ringing
4     Across the lilac'd square;
5They sang like happy children
6     Who know not doubt or care,
8And each one sloped a rifle
9     And each one bore a pack;
10They had no grief to stifle,
11     No tears to weep, alack;
12They were too blithe to question
13     Which of them should come back,
14          As they went marching on.
II
15Oh, thou whose eyes are sorrow,
16     And whose soul is sorrowing,
17Who knowest that each to-morrow
18     A deeper woe may bring,
19And knowest that all the comfort
20     Is the very littlest thing
21          While they go marching on;
22These sons of thine seek glory,
23     As the bridegroom seeks the bride,
24And who shall tell the story
25     Of their triumph and their pride?
26Like lovers, for the love of thee
27     They have lain them down and died;
28          And they go marching on.
III
29They march by field and city,
30     By every road and way,
31A march which angels pity
32     And none may stop or stay
33Till the last head is rested
34     On the last crimson clay;
35          So they go marching on!
36They march in the broad sunlight
37     And by the lovers' moon,
38Into the flame and gun-light
39     From morns and eves of June,
40And Death for their entrancèd feet
41     Pipes an obsequious tune,
42          And keeps them marching on.
IV
43And mid the battle thunder,
44     And in the fields of blood,
45They see the untarnished wonder,
46     The healing, and the good
47Which passeth understanding
48     And can not be understood;
49          And they go marching on.
50They see the rose's brightness
51     Made perfect and complete,
52Lilies and snows of whiteness,
53     And wings of gold that beat
54For ever and for ever
56          And they go marching on.

Notes

7] Possibly alluding to Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic," whose refrain runs variations on "His Truth is marching on." Back to Line
55] Paraclete: the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Trinity in Christian dogma. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1916
Publication Notes: 
War Poems, by "X" [1916].
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2002
Rhyme: