On Majuba Hill

They broke! All in vain that long climb through the night,
Mute and breathless, o'er donga and boulder;
In vain the stern stand and the desperate fight
Of our Highlanders, shoulder to shoulder.
The foes, five to one, and as brave as our best,
Stormed up the steep ridges and crowded the crest.

They broke! Clean and close shot the Dutchmen, and fast,
Right and left, fell our men, dead or dying.
What flesh could stand firm 'gainst that fierce fiery blast,
That hot hail of bullets straight flying?
They broke, sturdy Britons led blindly to death,
Their thin lines swept flat as by Azrael's breath.

They broke! Dauntless S TEWART , stout F RASER in vain
Their torn ranks might rally and muster;
In vain did they gather again and again,
Teeth set, in fierce knot and close cluster.
They broke! Ah, the pain of that pitiful rush,
Down the Spitzkop's steep ridges o'er boulder and bush!

They broke! Whose the fault? Gallant C OLLEY lies dead,
Brave, generous, loved—all men sorrow.
To-day we must praise the slain heroes he led,
We'll portion the blame on the morrow.
'Tis scarcely disgrace to such foemen to fall,
'Tis pity such foemen are foemen at all.
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