BBWB 21: Into the Breach

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 21

Into the Breach


Heroic, stoic, stern with clout,
Men close towards their foes
Encroaching on a stout redoubt
They’ve call’d the Jewish Nose

As murder’s prattling rattles peak
At life & limbs exacting
As eyeballs rest upon the cheek
Lungs in & out contracting –

Most horrendous exhibitions
Of complex anatomy
Crudely sculptur’d by munitions
Of this vicious enemy –

George Goldthorpe wonders how far war
Slouches beyond romance
When gnashing groups of schleppy gore
Usurps the clash of lance

Despite the firestorm’s withering
No thought was sought fae stopping
Leg-wounded lads, unswithering,
Still forwards go, hop-hopping

When following their leaders on
Thro’ terror’s vaults unseal’d
Exhorting leaders, one-by-one,
Caught death upon that field

McAllister passes rantings
Of captains, blood profuse,
Singing swinging swansong chantings,
Latin verses most obtuse

Beside them screams Leuitenant Hailes
Clutching his stomach’s squirting
For morphia he begs & wails
Awfully disconcerting

Tho’ Major Henderson’s concuss,
& noble bloodflow slowing,
Strength found enough to raise his puss,
“Pure barry lads, keep going!”

Brave Hamilton waves back his men,
Sieve-riddl’d, dying fast
“I’m nae worth rescue, lads, ya ken,”
As now his men amass’d

Before the Jew’s Nose rudderless,
& charg’d it gallantly
Defying death, on bloody crest
Men died valiantly

Trying to hack thro’ tanglewire
Shellfire had fail’d to cut
Form piles, like branches on a pyre,
Of bodies, rising glut

Thro’ carnage indescribable,
At last the Black Watch reach
A battle recognizable
Gone bursting thro’ the breach

They’ve dropp’d into chaotic ditch
Of bodies, clods & pebbles
To pack of pouncing panthers switch
Like royals routing rebels

All living thing that mov’d were shot
Or stricken-struck straight thro
Like spitted meat, “Ach, nee!” “Mein Gott!”
Each second-split miscue

Stab, throttle, slash; rage unconfin’d
Surfs on a Trojan bloodlust
Thro’ chest, back, throats, so smooth, unkind
Track bayonets that thrust

Its fecht or fa’ for Fritz & a’
Those braw lads wearing tartan
The Hun soon huddl’d, big or sma,’
Like kids at kindergarten

Pleading for life, subdued & cow’d,
Hoping because they’d halted
Their killing spree, which scything plough’d
Thro’ Black Watch boys unfalter’d

They’d let them live as are the ways
Of war twyx noble nations
“A bloody nuisance” Currie says
But being good creations

Of Scottish values hearth & kirk
Good hearts save murderers’ lives
& pack them off to payless work
In a prison camp by St Ives

The whole event five minutes took
The front line for to clear,
The battle on a tenterhook
Shifts to a higher gear

“On! On! & Onwards!” “Glory!” cried
The corporals in command
For all the other ranks had died
Or damag’d could not stand

With an intoxic’ battlecry
The paths of slaughter chosen
As when Hellenic heroes fly
Across the plains of Troezen

As when Scots Greys did dash about
The columns of D’Erlon
The Hun push’d backwards at the rout
While pipers got a skirl on

Cannons respond, with fiery roar
Fell shell on frantic shell
The dense & frightning din of war
Progress escorts thro’ Hell

Where blown to bits & blown apart
Men blown to kingdom come,
Whose whizzing, fizzing souls depart
To immortal martydom

That tough procession reach’d a wall
LOOS painted on the plaster
They might just win this after all
Despite the dawn’s disaster.

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