The circus toured the local towns
With dancing dogs, and painted clowns,
Behind them marched the King's Dragoons
To harvest men, for their platoons.
They set up on the village green
By one and all, they could be seen.
Young Billy White marched up and down,
Ignored the dogs, and hapless clown.
He'd dreamed he'd wear a coat of red,
Deeds of valor filled his head.
But he was only twelve years old,
Too young, for war, so he'd been told.
The sergeant spotted Billy White,
And asked him, did he want to fight?
'Oh, yes' said Billy, 'But I'm small'
'Don't worry, lad, you'll soon grow tall'
So, Billy took the shilling, bright,
And made his mark, to go and fight.
Billy's mother shed a tear,
Heart filled with sadness, and with fear.
Her son was marching off to war,
As her dead husband had, before.
Her son was going off to fight,
The price, a monarch's shilling, bright.
With pride, he wore his scarlet coat,
As he marched south, to meet the boat.
On board, he learned, the drum, to beat,
For victory, but not, defeat.
He slept on deck, beneath the moon,
Amid the snores, of his platoon.
When the day of battle came,
He heard the sergeant, call his name.
'Billy, you be tall and proud, '
'And beat your drum, in time, out loud! '
! Cause when your comrades, hear your beat<'
'They'll march, in time, and not retreat.'
The order to advance was made,
And forward went this red parade.
The sound of Russian guns did roar,
Billy's eyes, looked on in awe.
Deafened by the awful sound,
Red bodies, littered, all around.
Still, Billy kept a perfect beat,
The sergeant screamed 'Boys, no retreat! '
The bullet ripped through Billy's chest,
He fell down dead, like all the rest.
An hour later, battle lost,
The sergeant, tasked, to count the cost.
The ground, no longer green, just red,
He sent some men, to strip the dead.
They stripped poor Billy of his coat,
And took the scarf, from round his throat.
They closed his staring, lifeless eyes,
His drum, they took, another prize.
To you, who organize, these wars,
To suit yourselves, or for your cause,
Just think of those you kill and maim,
And bow your heads, in lifelong shame! ! !
Owain Glyn's Other Poems
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
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