Marching On

A poem by Thomas William Hodgson Crosland


I heard the young lads singing
In the still morning air,
Gaily the notes came ringing
Across the lilac'd square;
They sang like happy children
Who know not doubt or care,

And each one sloped a rifle
And each one bore a pack;
They had no grief to stifle,
No tears to weep, alack;
They were too blithe to question
Which of them should come back,
As they went marching on.


Oh, thou whose eyes are sorrow,
And whose soul is sorrowing,
Who knowest that each to-morrow
A deeper woe may bring,
And knowest that all the comfort
Is the very littlest thing
While they go marching on;

These sons of thine seek glory,
As the bridegroom seeks the bride,
And who shall tell the story
Of their triumph and their pride?
Like lovers, for the love of thee
They have lain them down and died;
And they go marching on.


They march by field and city,
By every road and way,
A march which angels pity
And none may stop or stay
Till the last head is rested
On the last crimson clay;
So they go marching on!

They march in the broad sunlight
And by the lovers' moon,
Into the flame and gun-light
From morns and eves of June,
And Death for their entranc├Ęd feet
Pipes an obsequious tune,
And keeps them marching on.


And mid the battle thunder,
And in the fields of blood,
They see the untarnished wonder,
The healing, and the good
Which passeth understanding
And can not be understood;
And they go marching on.

They see the rose's brightness
Made perfect and complete,
Lilies and snows of whiteness,
And wings of gold that beat
For ever and for ever
Before the Paraclete;
And they go marching on.

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