Banjo Paterson

The Last Parade

With never a sound of trumpet, With never a flag displayed, The last of the old campaigners Lined up for the last parade. Weary they were and battered, Shoeless, and knocked about; From under their ragged forelocks Their hungry eyes looked out. And they watched as the old commander Read out to the cheering men The Nation's thanks, and the orders To carry them home again. And the last of the old campaigners, Sinewy, lean, and spare -- He spoke for his hungry comrades: "Have we not done our share? "Starving and tired and thirsty We limped on the blazing plain; And after a long night's picket You saddled us up again. "We froze on the windswept kopjes When the frost lay snowy-white, Never a halt in the daytime, Never a rest at night! "We knew when the rifles rattled From the hillside bare and brown, And over our weary shoulders We felt warm blood run down, "As we turned for the stretching gallop, Crushed to the earth with weight; But we carried our riders through it -- Sometimes, perhaps, too late. "Steel! We were steel to stand it -- We that have lasted through, We that are old campaigners Pitiful, poor, and few. "Over the sea you brought us, Over the leagues of foam: Now we have served you fairly Will you not take us home? "Home to the Hunter River, To the flats where the lucerne grows; Home where the Murrumbidgee Runs white with the melted snows. "This is a small thing, surely! Will not you give command That the last of the old campaigners Go back to their native land?" They looked at the grim commander, But never a sign he made. "Dismiss!" and the old campaigners Moved off from their last parade.

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