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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Augustus Henry Beesly (1839–1909)

André’s Ride

WHEN André rode to Pont-du-lac,

With all his raiders at his back,

Mon Dieu! the tumult in the town!

Scarce clanged the great portcullis down

Ere in the sunshine gleamed his spears,

And up marched all his musketeers,

And far and fast in haste’s array

Sped men to fight and priests to pray:

In every street a barricade

Of aught that lay to hand was made;

From every house a man was told,

Nor quittance given to young or old:

Should youth be spared or age be slack

When André rode to Pont-du-lac?

When André rode to Pont-du-lac,

With all his ravening reiver-pack,

The mid lake was a frozen road

Unbending to the cannon’s load;

No warmth the sun had as it shone;

The kine were stalled, the birds were gone;

Like wild things seemed the shapes of fur

With which was every street astir,

And over all the huddling crowd

The thick breath hung—a solid cloud;—

Roof, road, and river, all were white;

Men moved benumbed by day—by night

The boldest durst not bivouac,

When André rode to Pont-du-lac.

When André rode to Pont-du-lac,

We scarce could stem his swift attack;

A halt, a cheer, a bugle-call,—

Like wild-cats they were up the wall:

But still as each man won the town,

We tossed him from the ramparts down;

And when at last the stormers quailed,

And back the assailants shrank assailed,

Like wounded wasps that still could sting,

Or tigers that had missed their spring,

They would not fly, but turned at bay

And fought out all the dying day;—

Sweet saints! it was a crimson track

That André left by Pont-du-lac.

When André rode to Pont-du-lac,

Said he, “A troop of girls could sack

This huckster town, that hugs its hoard

But wists not how to wield a sword.”

It makes my blood warm now to know

How soon Sir Cockerel ceased to crow,

And how ’twas my sure dagger-point

In André’s harness found a joint:

For I, who now am old, was young,

And strong the thews were, now unstrung,

And deadly though our danger then,

I would that day were back again;

Ay, would to God the day were back

When André rode to Pont-du-lac!