Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
The Keepers of the Pass
Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts (1860–1943)
When Adam Dulac and His Comrades, Sworn Not to Return Alive, Saved Montreal from the Iroquois
NOW heap the branchy barriers up.
  No more for us shall burn
The pine-logs on the happy hearth,
  For we shall not return.
We ’ve come to our last camping-ground.        5
  Set axe to fir and tamarack.
The foe is here, the end is near,
  And we shall not turn back.
In vain for us the town shall wait,
  The home-dear faces yearn,        10
The watchers on the steeple watch,—
  For we shall not return.
For them we ’re come to these hard straits,
  To save from flame and wrack
The little city built far off;        15
  And we shall not turn back.
Now beat the yelling butchers down.
  Let musket blaze, and axe-edge burn.
Set hand to hand, lay brand to brand,
  But we shall not return.        20
For every man of us that falls
  Their hordes a score shall lack.
Close in about the Lily Flag!
  No man of us goes back.
For us no morrow’s dawn shall break.        25
  Our sons and wives shall learn
Some day from lips of flying scout
  Why we might not return.
A dream of children’s laughter comes
  Across the battle’s slack,        30
A vision of familiar streets,—
  But we shall not go back.
Up roars the painted storm once more.
  Long rest we soon shall earn.
Henceforth the city safe may sleep,        35
  But we shall not return.
And when our last has fallen in blood
  Between these waters black,
Their tribe shall no more lust for war,—
  For we shall not turn back.        40
In vain for us the town shall wait,
  The home-dear faces yearn,
The watchers in the steeple watch,
  For we shall not return.


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