Dead Men's Holiday

AFTER SHIPKA.

Who dares to say the dead men were not glad,
When all the banners flaunted triumph there
And soldiers tossed their caps into the air,
And cheered, and cheered as they with joy were mad?

Proudly the General galloped down the line,
And shouted thanks and praise to all his men,
And the free echoes tossed it back again,
And the keen air stung all their lips like wine.

And there, in front, the dead lay silently —
They who had given their lives the fight to win —
Were their ears deaf, think you, to all the din,
And their eyes blinded that they could not see?

I tell you, no! They heard, and hearing knew
How brief a thing this triumph of a day,
From which men journey on, the same old way,
The same old snares and pitfalls struggle through.

Theirs the true triumph, for their fight was done;
And with low laughter called they, each to each —
" We are at rest, where foemen cannot reach,
And better this than fighting in the sun. "
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