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The Poet's Corner

This Page contains poems about Fifes, Drums, and the wonderful people who, through the years, have faithfully preserved the spirit of this music for us.
If you have a poem you would like to see published here, use this
LINK, to send a copy to me. I will get it on line as soon as possible..Thanks

An Anient Muster
Is A Gathering Thing

The shrill of fifes with air did fight
And wrestled ears on whirling heads
The beat of drums did thunder run
To summon home brave heroes dead
Back home to hear on Muster day
The stirring songs that once they played
And view the Ancients grand parade
From secret shadow, silent shade.

The bold and brave that played these tunes
That echo now on older moons
Are glad their music has not fled
To other worlds as they when dead.

Gay hornpipes, jigs and reels still bring
A swaggering strut to everything
That lives and laughs and loves and sings,
A strut that even humbled kings.

So fifers fife, and drummers drum
Your songs 'til hell and earth are done
Then send your message to the sun
And worlds that from where heroes come
Now play with pride, proud heads held high
And march as conquerers of a king,
You too are brave as they that gave
You reasons for this gathering thing!

Robert M. O'Brien

Reprinted from the Ancient Times
Vol 25 No. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 1998

Prayer for the Fife and Drum

Bless the drum and bless the fife
As they play the songs of life.
Brave musicians boldly led
As ancient armies marched ahead.
Into danger, risking all
To keep alive their battle call.
So keep us marching, drum and fife.
As we face our storms and strife.
Give us courage every day,
Remember why it is we play:
Beat the drum to make us strong
To choose the right when faced with wrong.
And pipe our hearts to look above
When vision dims the dreams of love.
So give us hope and keep us true
Until our marching days are through.
Then let your rhythms guide our feet
To muster on God's golden street.

Rev. Timothy Haut
No date, but it appeared on the Deep River Ancient Muster poster in 1997 and graciously submitted for publication here by Mr. Ray Hauley, January 2001

Jack Foran

Former Major Commanding,
Nathan Hale Ancient Fifes & Drums,
died Saturday, May 30th, 1998, from injuries sustained in recent automobile accident. Members of the corps performed a mourning ritual at the funeral for our departed friend & leader of many years.

This is a Poem written by Megan Greenleaf, dedicated to Jack:

Mr. Edmund W. Boyle, forty-year member of the
Lancraft Fife And Drums Corps of North Haven, Connecticut,
has assembled a wonderful collection of his ORIGINAL poems on his own website.

I am most pleased to provide a direct link to that site


Just use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page. Ed knows how much I HATE losing visitors to his site...!

Also Known As ...The Last Muster

By Alison Rittershaus

The sticks lie heavy
in my hands,
knowing their power,
as though I had forgotten it.
the thick strap pulls
as my tired shoulder
and loosened snares
crackle softly
with each footfall.

From the distance,
strains of music
beat through my blood
as much as find my ears.
I think of nothing
and let the moment
and my steps
take me forward.

And turning back
to hear a fading song,
I see the tree-tops
tipped with moonlit gold.

Turkey - In - The - Straw

By MacKinlay Kantor

This poem was published in A Book of American Ballads and Primitive Verse(1935)

Judge Wright said
"It's Contrary to law
They oughtn't be playing

But all the old vets
In the Potter's field
Mumbled and laughed
As our band hands wheeled.
Through the powdered smoke --
Talking so fierce
In Sixty-One grammar!

And Perc Knowles nodded
In his deep grave
"The best martial tune
Those boys ever gave."

And Park Banks stirred
In his old blue coat
Close by the field
Of budding oat --
"The boys are beating.
I hear -- I see . . . .
Next tune they play'll be
'Jefferson and Liberty.' "

Clatter - patter
Clatter - patter,
Crowds went by
And they only saw
A mild May sky
With us standing beneath it,
Beating like hell
A maudlin chorus the graves knew

Joe Mead whispered
Up through the sod,
"Hope they play'Tallewan' "
Too, by God!
Hope their fingers
Are wire and steel;
Hope they make
The cedar trees kneel."
And unseen eagles
Yelled on a ridge
Over beyond the Deer Creek

The crowds just went past . . .
We were tired
And done, at last.
But the cedars whistled
That dancing sound
In the slow night breeze
Of the burying ground.

And some say the little flags
Snapped like stars
To the drum, drum, drum
Of those redskin bars;
And I saw Yankee men
Pushing up their stones,
And dancing to our fifes
On splinter-new bones!

Re-printed here through the courtesy of the Company Of Fifers & Drummers, Music Library

How and where I Learned to Drum

'Twas back in nineteen hundred,
Just fifty years ago,
When first I heard the roll of drums,
And it set my heart aglow.
About eight-thirty in the evening,
If memory serves me right.
And 'twas a balmy August night,
In a little village called Moodus,
Just a country place remote,
Where ancient drumming reigned supreme,
And on history's page it's wrote;
Where rudiments were known as rules
And a piece was called a beat;
A soft pad used while learning,
Where one could not fake or cheat;
Where change-hands were not called shivers
Or a three stroke roll a ruff;
Where the men who taught this ancient art,
Were strict and knew their stuff;
Each blow was struck distinctly,
For a rebound did not go;
Each hand was raised to the shoulder,
With instructions thus and so;
Rhythm, time, and execution
Were drilled into the bone;
And a single drum made music,
When one chose to play alone.
They had a system too, quite unique,
Not found in any book,
'Twas the work of a great musician,
Named Dr. U.S.Cook.
Yes, the style was quite unique indeed,
But for all they did not boast,
And eighty years ago and more
'Twas the talk from coast to coast.
So this is where and how I learned to drum
Justly proud to say,
This mention made as a matter of fact,
In no conceited way.

Pete Mietzner,
Jan. 17, 1950

Reprinted from "Rhymes of the Ancient Times"

The Three-Cornered Hat

I like the old man with the three-cornered hat;
It reminds me of '75
When the hearts of our fathers went pat, pit-a pat
And Liberty scarce was alive.

I like the old man with the three-cornered hat;
And the honest old visage that shows under that.
It bids me remember the tales I have heard,
The aged report of old time,
When the ship Massachussetts by Hancock was steered,
And a three-cornered hat was no crime.

He puts me in mind of a sturdy old oak
That has weathered the rough pelting blast;
Though a limb by rude lightening was tore off and broke,
The well-rooted trunk holds it fast.

I like the old trunk, for it's scions will prove
An honor to Liberty's shore -
The ornament, beauty and pride of the grove
When the storm-shattered oak is no more.

I LIKE the old man with the three-cornered hat,
And the honest old visage that shows under that.

Francis Mores Adlington -1789-1884/

This poem was sent to me years ago by Leslie Hebert along with his Christmas card.
It has had a place on my desk-top ever since.

My Thanks to Mark Logsdon of the First Michigan Corps for the following:

"The following poem appears in "The Drum", by Hugh Barty-King, published in London, 1988. No author is known."

What price glory? Heaven knows!
We're just a bunch of chums
Who're marching on to who knows where -
Until we hear the drums.

We're just the sergeant's shower. Who cares?
We take life as it comes.
And oh, the deep despondency! -
Until we hear the drums.

Browned off? I'll say. A clumsy lot
With all our fingers thumbs.
But God! We pull together when -
We hear the fifes and drums.

It's all a joke! can this be IT?
The sergeant haws and hums.
But none of us are doubting when -
We hear the fifes and drums.

Thoughts are scattered, minds confused,
We dream of homes, and mums.
But oh, the concentration when -
We hear the bleeding drums!

Death or glory? Heroes? Us?
The truth is dawning. Crumbs!
What goads us on? What winds us up? -
The blooming Corps of Drums.

Page Created and Maintained by Bob Castillo