The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Past and Present
Old tracks are blurred by the wind and sand,
Old outpost trigs are hidden,
And time atones for the bleaching bones
Of horses we have ridden.
Grey silence reigns on treeless plains
That fret in summer haze,
But out where the batt'ry thunder rolls
Swift hands are heaping high the coals
To feed an awesome blaze.
Old comrades sleep on the surging dunes
With conquered miles behind them—
We marked each loss on the sun-warped cross
While mates limped in to find them.
But sadness dies in horsemen's eyes
When anger snarls ahead—
We ride full-speed in the ghastly strife
That flings hot ire at laughing life
And claims its toll of dead.
Old fields o'er which the brigades have stormed
By some are nigh forgotten;
The fire-trench sags where the old sand bags
Are grey with age, and rotten.
Though foeman-fire yet jars our wire
In zones that reek and flare,
Brave birds sing the old sweet melodies
While death-shells croon o'er wounded trees
To blast the landscape bare.
Old camping grounds in the palmy hods
Are left to loit'ring Arabs;
The hot wind sweeps over debris heaps
Alive with hawks and scarabs.
Oh, we who live may yet forgive
Hard hearts that roused our ire,
For he who joins in the triumph song,
What time our arms have righted wrong,
Shall seek his heart's desire.
Old highways fade in the wake of war,
Where hate no longer stuns—
Oh, once we strode on the limestone road
Before the rumbling guns!
But now our force of man and horse
Is great, and good to see;
And soon we'll sweep like an autumn flood
O'er hills of fire and fields of blood
From doubt to victory!