(This poem was first written for the Quebec Chronicle by W.P.O.)
Again the white tents glisten against the glorious dawn,
Again the bugles echo across the wood-land lawn;
The startled foals cease romping, the wild life hides in fear,
But my heart is sad and lonesome for the Men of Yesteryear.
They gathered in their thousands, a goodly, valiant host,
From the shoreland of Cape Breton, from the far-flung western coast,
From the highways and the byways, busy mart and lonely mere,
Came that band of brave crusaders, came the Men of Yesteryear.
They awoke this sleepy hollow when the searching feet of Change
Had found their way but seldom. And they gathered at the range.
They sang of Tipperary, and with hearts that knew no fear,
They yearned for comiing battles, did the men of Yesteryear.
The tents were struck ere dawning beneath a starry sky,
They marched away to old Quebec to hear their last good-bye;
The streets were filled with khaki, and on the crowded pier
Were tear-wet eyes and breaking hearts, O Men of Yesteryear.
A gallant little army, the months have passed away,
And bravely have ye born yourselves in many a cruel fray;
But many a gay young comrade, who laughed and laboured here,
Sleeps beneath the soil of Flanders, O Men of Yesteryear.
O sacred soil of Flanders, red altar of our pride,
Historic field of Langemarck, whereon they fought and died,
There were none that fought more bravely or their honour held more dear,
Than the men who lit their camp fires in this valley Yesteryear.
They have writ another chapter on our envied scroll of fame,
They have set the Empire ringing with our proud Dominion's name;
But they paid a costly quittance. And we, with sigh and tear
We, too, must pay our reckoning, O Men of Yesteryear.
Once more the heavy lorries plough up Valcartier hill,
Once more within the dusty lines the troop-horse whinnies shrill,
And khaki figures come and go, their sharp commands I hear;
But I see a phantom army-- 'tis the Men of Yesteryear.
And in the night, when stars are out above the pine-ringed plain,
I seem to hear the tramp of those who will not come again.
The sound of marching heroes, with shining eyes sincere,
Who go to meet their Captain, the Men of Yesteryear.
O men who left Valcartier, God rest your valiant shades
That walk amid the ghostly tents and haunt the lonely glades,
When the last loud trump is sounding, and the warrior hosts appear,
He shall number you among them, O Men of Yesteryear.