How are You, Sanitary?

A poem by Francis Bret Harte

Down the picket-guarded lane
Rolled the comfort-laden wain,
Cheered by shouts that shook the plain,
Soldier-like and merry:
Phrases such as camps may teach,
Sabre-cuts of Saxon speech,
Such as “Bully!” “Them’s the peach!”
“Wade in, Sanitary!”

Right and left the caissons drew
As the car went lumbering through,
Quick succeeding in review
Squadrons military;
Sunburnt men with beards like frieze,
Smooth-faced boys, and cries like these,
“U. S. San. Com.” “That’s the cheese!”
“Pass in, Sanitary!”

In such cheer it struggled on
Till the battle front was won:
Then the car, its journey done,
Lo! was stationary;
And where bullets whistling fly
Came the sadder, fainter cry,
“Help us, brothers, ere we die,
Save us, Sanitary!”

Such the work. The phantom flies,
Wrapped in battle clouds that rise:
But the brave whose dying eyes,
Veiled and visionary,
See the jasper gates swung wide,
See the parted throng outside
Hears the voice to those who ride:
“Pass in, Sanitary!”

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