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Valenciennes by Thomas Hardy
By Corporal Tullidge. See 'The Trumpet-Major'
In Memory of S. C. (Pensioner). Died 184-
WE trenched, we trumpeted and drummed,
And from our mortars tons of iron hummed
Ath'art the ditch, the month we bombed
The Town o' Valencienn.
'Twas in the June o' Ninety-dree
(The Duke o' Yark our then Commander benn)
The German Legion, Guards, and we
Laid siege to Valencienn.
This was the first time in the war
That French and English spilled each other's gore;
--God knows what year will end the roar
Begun at Valencienn!
'Twas said that we'd no business there
A-topperen the French for disagrenn;
However, that's not my affair--
We were at Valencienn.
Such snocks and slats, since war began
Never knew raw recruit or veteran:
Stone-deaf therence went many a man
Who served at Valencienn.
Into the streets, ath'art the sky,
A hundred thousand balls and bombs were flenn;
And harmless townsfolk fell to die
Each hour at Valencienn!
And, sweaten wi' the bombardiers,
A shell was slent to shards anighst my ears:
--'Twas night the end of hopes and fears
For me at Valencienn!
They bore my wownded frame to camp,
And shut my gapen skull, and washed en cleen,
And jined en wi' a zilver clamp
Thik night at Valencienn.
'We've fetched en back to quick from dead;
But never more on earth while rose is red
Will drum rouse Corpel!' Doctor said
O' me at Valencienn.
'Twer true. No voice o' friend or foe
Can reach me now, or any liveen benn;
And little have I power to know
Since then at Valencienn!
I never hear the zummer hums
O' bees; and don't know when the cuckoo comes;
But night and day I hear the bombs
We threw at Valencienn....
As for the Duke o' Yark in war,
There be some volk whose judgment o' en is meen;
But this I say--'a was not far
From great at Valencienn.
O' wild wet nights, when all seems sad,
My wownds come back, as though new wownds I'd had;
But yet--at times I'm sort o' glad
I fout at Valencienn.
Well: Heaven wi' its jasper halls
Is now the on'y Town I care to be in....
Good Lord, if Nick should bomb the walls
As we did Valencienn!