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A Year of Poetry – Day 188

The mark of a stake in the shoulder,
The brand of a wall on the knee,
Are scars to the careless beholder
And blemishes. So it may be ;
But every such blemish endorses
The pluck of a steed unafraid,
And the heart of a lover of horses
Goes out to the Battered Brigade.
Their knocks have been gathered in duty,
Their scars in the front of the fray;
It isn’t your cleanest-legged beauty
That’s first at the end of the day.
When five foot of timber before us
Has half of the pretty ones stayed,
If you want to catch up to the chorus
Come on with the Battered Brigade!
Turned out in the finest of fettle
‘Tis sometimes the soundest that fails
And would rather hear hoofs on the metal
Than follow the rattle of rails;
But out on the grass with hounds racing
And fences as big as they’re made
The cream of the gay steeple-chasing
Is left to the Battered Brigade.
Their line is the line of the foxes,
Their pace is the pace of the pack,
Though to-morrow they stand in their boxes
As stiff as the props of a stack;
And I ‘ll lay you my cheque at the banker’s
They’re forward next week undismayed.
Good luck to the blemished front-rankers!
Hats off to the Battered Brigade!

— William Henry Ogilvie, The Battered Brigade

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