The Earth gave up her dead

(notes by Philip Holberton)


Published in Life’s Handicap (Aug 14 1891) as the heading to “The Man who Was” , attributed to Ballad.

The poem

See Revelations 20.13: [D.H.]

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.

The verses echo the story. A long-lost officer, who has been a prisoner of the Russians for thirty years, finds his way back to his regiment but dies from his sufferings. The White Hussars vow to take their revenge when the long-expected war with Russia comes:

On the gun-butt score
The vengeance we must take.

It is said that gun-fighters in the American Wild West cut notches on the butts of their revolvers to keep count of the men they had killed. This editor has never heard of numbers being scored before the fight as a sort of “To Do” list.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved