James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 17

Colonel Burnaby

By Andrew Lang (1844–1912)

  • A distinguished English traveler, soldier, and author. Best known by his “Ride to Khiva,” which described his journey thither across the steppes. He was war correspondent at one time for the London Times. He was killed Jan. 17, 1885, at Abu Klea by a spear wound while rallying his men.

  • THOU that on every field of earth and sky

    Didst hunt for Death—that seemed to flee and fear—

    How great and greatly fallen dost thou lie

    Slain in the Desert by some wandering spear!

    “Not here,” alas! may England say—“not here

    Nor in this quarrel was it meet to die,

    But in that dreadful battle drawing nigh,

    To shake the Afghan passes strait and sheer.”

    Like Aias by the Ships shouldst thou have stood,

    And in some glen have stayed the stream of flight,

    The pillar of thy people and their shield,

    Till Helmund or till Indus ran with blood,

    And back, towards the Northlands and the Night

    The stricken Eagles scattered from the field.