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Waterloo Sunset

by Doug Pugh

They were on the green,
That market day
The drumbeats rolled their fame.

All dashing red,
Gold epaulettes,
The lasses’ faces all aflame.

Bravado reigned,
Heroes all,
So proud was their parade.

With orderly cries,
And synchronised steps
King and country all a-praised.

Some signed then,
And took their coin,
To celebrate their dawn.

Others like me
Were not so sure
And yet we still were drawn

A foaming jug
And then some more,
And tales of glory, too,

Fluttering lashes
And too-high skirts
One night’s glory promised to you.

To wake in the morn
To a kick in the ribs
And a coin held fast in my hand,

A greasy bacon slab
And a harsh corned bap
Was not what my stomach could stand.

Formed into a line
With sharp cracking shouts
And buffets and curses by the score

We strode off to the beat
Of a drum that had lost
The gloss of the night before

Farewell, lovely lass,
Forget me not yet,
I’ll be back with a tale and a medal.

I walked away down the lane,
Past the ends of my world
On the march of an infantryman’s treadle.

Take care, thatched roofs,
And turnips and beets
I grow now in a row of my own.

I’ll return soon enough
With a smile on my face
As I ride an officer’s roan.

In less than a month
All square bashed and drilled
And my hand caressing my stock,

I cut quite a dash
With my fellows anew
All armed to give Boney a shock.

Crossed over the foamy wave
That spared him from us
Now Britannia had swept the seas clean.

Ship after ship,
And town after town
Sailed forth to tear down his dream.

Waves of red,
We marched over land,
No cliffs could stop our red sea

Led by gods on white horses,
Iron Duke and his crew.
Boney’s fate was plain to see.

We formed in our squares,
And marched to our point.
The clock to their doom it is ticking.

The blue chess pieces form
on the checkerboard of fate,
and they await a good English kicking.

A signal from the hill,
As the gods look on down,
And we step on the stairway to glory,

Precise is the beat,
And a measured step from our feet,
Our line as faultless as a story,

Up the slope of a hill,
Over the crest of a rise,
Fair grass beneath our stride,

With the sun on our face,
And the wind in our hair,
And shielded by our pride.

Suddenly there’s a ‘crack!’
And it’s that of my doom,
Unused rifle drops from lifeless hands,

My tunic is red,
But not red enough,
As I colour in those smart white bands.

I topple and fall
As my wheat-raised friends
Are scythed down where they stood

A harvest we know,
It comes once a year,
But not filled with English blood.

Our comrades behind
They march ever on
Crushing hands and legs in turn

My sight it grows dim
The noise whispers away
The smoke no longer my nostrils burn.

Scattered images fly
As my mind leaks away
And my heart races suddenly home.

They could keep their glory
If I could retell this story
With my pint held by hands covered in loam.

Copyright © March 2005 by Doug Pugh

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