Patrick Barrington

(1908-1990 / Great Britain)

Battle Song


There's havoc on the staircase where the guests come streaming,
Shirt-fronts shining and tiaras gleaming,
Frail folk shuddering and stout folk steaming --
Steaming in the heat of the fray.
Midnight striking and the strife appalling,
Strong men staggering and weak men falling,
And deep in the heart of me a still voice calling:
'Make for the buffet while you may.

'Make for the buffet while you may, poor stranger,
Make for the buffet while you can;
There's hope for the stale there, strength for the frail there,
Drink for the thirsty man.
Thrust through the throng! Be obstreperous and strong!
Fight till your strength is sped.
Fight and prevail; do not falter, do not fail,
Make for the buffet and be fed!

'Make for the buffet and be fed, poor stranger,
Make for the buffet and be strong;
Dense is the press and the air is growing less,
Fierce is the fight and long.
Fierce is the fight and oppressive is the night,
Stern is the strife and fell;
Pale is your cheek; you are wan and you are weak;
Make for the buffet and be well!'

Painfully and wearily the hours are dragging,
Old men are falling now and young men flagging;
White ties weakening and stiff shirts sagging --
Sagging as the hours go by.
Consciousness is failing me and outlines merging,
Thunder in my ears as of sea-foam surging,
And deep in the heart of me a faint voice urging:
'Make for the buffet lest you die.

'Make for the buffet lest you die, poor stranger;
Make for the buffet while you can;
Fight your way through like a woman in a queue,
Fight like a jungle-man!
Batter the élite with your hands and your feet,
Butt them in the backs with your head:
Strike for your own! You are hungry and alone;
Make for the buffet and be fed.

'Make for the buffet and be fed, poor stranger,
Make for the buffet lest you die.
There's hope for stale there, strength for the frail there,
Drink for the throat that's dry.
Courage and strength will rewarded be at length;
Weight in the end will tell.
Up, then, and on! Are you weary? Are you wan?
Make for the buffet and be well,
Poor stranger!
Make for the buffet and be well,
Poor ranger!
Make for the buffet and be well!'

Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

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