BBWB 11: Sylvermane

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 11

Sylvermane


The spirit of the wolf was in
The soul of Sylvermane
As with a grand & mighty din
Thro’ Flanders plough’d the train

Where no horse under fifteen hands,
From withers, ride the wagons
The best chevaux oer streams & strands
A team of equine dragons

Train trundles to its terminus
Where the Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers –
Of history most glorious,
Ideal for beaux romances –

Acquire the empire’s finest steeds
Soon Sylvermane was trotting
About a park at sev’ral speeds
Into the squadron slotting

She met a stallion one day
Oer haybales in the stable
Who with one wild, abrasive neigh
Relays a crazy fable

About a battle fought at Mons
Where gallant horses ran
In swift-hoov’d hurl at hosts of Huns
Brave in the British van

They hurtl’d cross an open field
Charging a line unbroken
Into a blazing bullet-shield
The hate of Hell awoken

Which decimated flesh & bone
In murder branded fighting
When riderless, gliding alone
Thro’ heaps of horrors blighting

He somehow found himself alive
As volley’d death, & thunder’d,
Just fifty horses would survive
Out of the bold three hundred

The bugle calls, the steeds led out
The regiment’s commander
Surrounded by revielle & shout
Acted the stern demander

Whose own grey horse bestricken lame
Thus for a fresh mount mingl’d
& asking Sylvermane her name
She instantly out-singl’d

He sens’d her Arran passion-pride;
As sunset tinges rim
She, with a springing country ride
Became war’s wings for him

A dashing man of cavalry
His name was David Campbell
Would won the National at Aintree,
The Irish Hunt as well

The next day dawn’d, at the outskirts
Of Paris swarms the Hun,
Such drastic danger disconcerts
Ramifications stun

But Gallieni taxis flags
Troops races to the front
While Lancers strap their saddlebags
& ride off like the Hunt

Unto the valley of the Marne
Whose river rolls for always
A long & liquid length of yarn
That parts the harvest maize

Where by the village of Montcel
The German First Dragoons
With lancers stand, upright barbell,
Spear-tipp’d tuneful bassoons

That play horrific symphonies
Of slaughter-notes & screams
Across the field their foe now is
Twinkling in the sunbeams

A hornblast blows the British burst
Into a gallop’s heaving
Earthquakes of hooves shake earth at first
The Germans misperceiving

Was this a raging torrent wave
Cast down a flooding river
No, no, it was the British, brave,
Teutonic spines a shiver

Tens’d up, & with a bridle strain
Charg’d forth to meet the foe
Like metal rooves, unfetter’d rain,
They met with rattleblow

On Sylvermane Campbell fought hard
But wounded was unsaddl’d
& so his steed did circle, guard
Her rider’s life embattl’d

She rear’d, she rag’d, she butted skulls
She desp’rate lances fended
Until the battle fades & lulls
Til sense of peace descended

The German’s routed from the plain
The British count their losses
& found the noble Sylvermane
Steam-snorting with head tosses

Attracting doctors to the scene
Where she was standing over
Her rider sprawl’d bleeding serene
In beds of woven clover

But smiling still, proclaiming this
His life’s best quarter hour,
To over dinners reminisce
As listeners devour

The day the charge of horse & man
Did halt forever more
As did Von Moltke’s Schlieffen plan
“Your Majesty, we’ve lost the war.”

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