Kept The Flag Floating

A poem by Joseph Horatio Chant

"Thank God, we have kept the flag floating."--General White.

Some men, like French, display much dash;
They boldly rush upon the foe,
Their sword-blades like the lightning flash,
As they on helm or hauberk clash;
Nor fear the foeman's blow.
We praise them for their gallant deeds;
They are the men the Empire needs.

But true as they are those who stand
Within the fort beleaguered round;
Resources few at their command,
Their army but a feeble band,
Yet bravely hold their ground;
And o'er their blood-bespattered coats
The Union Jack in triumph floats.

Reduced their strength through lack of food,
And fever germs on vitals preyed;
Yet they o'er trouble did not brood,
By night or day of cheerful mood;
This burden on them weighed--
To keep the flag afloat--in brief,
Till Buller came to their relief.

Brave White, accept our meed of praise!
We crown thee equal to the best
Of heroes of the olden days,
Whose deeds inspired the poets' lays!
We need no further quest;
But this with gratitude we note,
Thy valour kept the flag afloat!

Valor like thine does not surprise
When we review thy noble past;
A hero is the one who tries,
Though he may not to ideal rise--
His plan may fail at last--
Yet is too brave to lay the blame
On others, but takes all the shame.

"The fault was mine," thy language then,
Revealing the divinest grace
Possessed by truly noble men,
And, prophecy of triumph, when
With foe brought face to face,
The choice remains, defeat or death,
The flag will float till latest breath.

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