Scarlet coats, and crash o’ the band,
The grey of a pauper’s gown,
A soldier’s grave in Zululand,
And a woman in Brecon Town.
My little lad for a soldier boy,
(Mothers o’ Brecon Town!)
My eyes for tears and his for joy
When he went from Brecon Town,
His for the flags and the gallant sights
His for the medals and his for the fights,
And mine for the dreary, rainy nights
At home in Brecon Town.
They say he’s laid beneath a tree,
(Come back to Brecon Town!)
Shouldn’t I know? — I was there to see:
(It’s far to Brecon Town!)
It’s me that keeps it trim and drest
With a briar there and a rose by his breast —
The English flowers he likes the best
That I bring from Brecon Town.
And I sit beside him — him and me,
(We’re back to Brecon Town.)
To talk of the things that used to be
(Grey ghosts of Brecon Town);
I know the look o’ the land and sky,
And the bird that builds in the tree near by,
And times I hear the jackals cry,
And me in Brecon Town.
Golden grey on miles of sand
The dawn comes creeping down;
It’s day in far off Zululand
And night in Brecon Town.
– John McCrae