W.H. Ogilvie (2)
With arrows* on their quarters and with numbers on their hoofs,
With the trampling sound of twenty that re-echoes in the roofs,
Low of crest and dull of coat, wan and wild of eye,
Through our English village the Canadians go by.
Shying at a passing cart, swerving from a car,
Tossing up an anxious head, to flaunt a snowy star,
Racking at a Yankee gait, reaching at the rein,
Twenty raw Canadians are tasting life again !
Hollow-necked and hollow-flanked, lean of rib and hip,
Strained and sick and weary with the wallow of the ship,
Glad to smell the turf again, hear the robin’s call,
Tread again the country road they lost at Montreal!
Fate may bring them dule** and woe; better steeds than they
Sleep beside the English guns a hundred leagues away;
But till war hath need of them lightly lie their reins,
Softly fall the feet of them along the English lanes.
* Horses belonging to the army were branded with the “broad arrow.”
** An archaic version of “dole” (as in “doleful”) meaning “grief.” Or it may be a typographical error … there are a number in Galtrey.
(1) Galtrey, Captain Sidney. The Horse and the War. London: Country Life, 1918. 110.
(2) William Henry Ogilvie (1869-1963) was a Scotsman who spent a formative period in Australia at the end of the nineteenth century. For details, see his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography