Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Joining The Colours

THERE they go marching all in step so gay!
Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
The mothers' sons.

The drab street stares to see them row on row
On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
Into the dark.

With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
Love cannot save.


High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed
Run with them : they shall kiss no more, alas!
Out of the mist they stepped-into the mist
Singing they pass.

by Katharine Tynan


Notes

This poem was first published in 1914 in the Westminster Gazette, 18 Sep 1914, and reprinted in the October (1914) edition of The Queen's Own Gazette - the journal of The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). It was written by the poet on the 1st Battalion's departure from Richmond Barracks, Dublin on 13 August, 1914. The title given in the journal is "Joining The Colours (West Kents, Dublin, August 1914)" - the latter part of the title would appear to have been subsequently dropped.

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