Marching On

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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, "As WE GO MARCHING ON."

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 stayTill 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 entrancèd 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 goodWhich 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 beatFor ever and for ever Before the Paraclete; And they go marching on.

© Crosland Thomas William Hodgson