Welcome to Poetry.com
Poetry.com is a huge collection of poems from famous and amateur poets from around the world — collaboratively published by a community of authors and contributing editors.
(0.00 / 0 votes) “
IT WAS on the fourth of August, as five hundred of us lay
In the camp at Eland’s River, came a shell from De La Rey—
We were dreaming of home faces,
Of the old familiar places,
And the gum-trees and the sunny plains five thousand miles away—
But the challenge woke and found us
With four thousand rifles round us;
And Death stood laughing at us at the breaking of the day.
Hell belched upon our borders, and the battle had begun.
Our Maxims jammed: We faced them with one muzzle-loading gun.
East, south, and west, and nor’ward
Their shells came screaming forward
As we threw the sconces round us in the first light of the sun.
The thin air shook with thunder
As they raked us fore and under,
And the cordon closed around us, as they held us—eight to one.
We got the Maxims going, and the field-gun into place
(She stilled the growling of a Krupp upon our southern face);
Round the crimson ring of battle
Swiftly ran the deadly rattle
As our rifles searched their fore-lines with a desperate menace;
Who would wish himself away
Fighting in our ranks that day
For the glory of Australia and the honour of the race?
But our horse-lines soon were shambles, and our cattle lying dead
(When twelve guns rake two acres there is little room to tread),
All day long we heard the drumming
Of the Mauser bullets humming,
And at night their guns, day-sighted, rained fierce havoc overhead.
Twelve long days and nights together,
Through the cold and bitter weather,
We lay grim behind the sconces, and returned them lead for lead.
They called us to surrender, and they let their cannon lag;
They offered us our freedom for the striking of the flag—
Army stores were there in mounds,
Worth a hundred thousand pounds,
And we lay battered round them behind trench and sconce and crag.
But we sent the answer in,
They could take what they could win—
We hadn’t come five thousand miles to fly the coward’s rag.
We saw the guns of Carrington come on and, fall away;
We saw the ranks of Kitchener across the kopje grey—
For the sun was shining then
Upon twenty thousand men—
And we laughed, because we knew, in spite of hell-fire and delay,
On Australia’s page for ever
We had written Eland’s River—
We had written it for ever and a day!
Discuss this George Essex Evans poem with the community:
Find a translation for this poem in other languages:
Select another language:
- - Select -
- 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
- 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
- Español (Spanish)
- Esperanto (Esperanto)
- 日本語 (Japanese)
- Português (Portuguese)
- Deutsch (German)
- العربية (Arabic)
- Français (French)
- Русский (Russian)
- ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
- 한국어 (Korean)
- עברית (Hebrew)
- Gaeilge (Irish)
- Українська (Ukrainian)
- اردو (Urdu)
- Magyar (Hungarian)
- मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
- Indonesia (Indonesian)
- Italiano (Italian)
- தமிழ் (Tamil)
- Türkçe (Turkish)
- తెలుగు (Telugu)
- ภาษาไทย (Thai)
- Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
- Čeština (Czech)
- Polski (Polish)
- Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
- Românește (Romanian)
- Nederlands (Dutch)
- Ελληνικά (Greek)
- Latinum (Latin)
- Svenska (Swedish)
- Dansk (Danish)
- Suomi (Finnish)
- فارسی (Persian)
- ייִדיש (Yiddish)
- հայերեն (Armenian)
- Norsk (Norwegian)
- English (English)