W. H. Auden

O What Is That Sound

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
      Down inthe valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
          The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
      Over the distance brightly, brightly ?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
          As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear
      What are they doing this morning, this morning?
Only the usual manoeuvres, dear,
          Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there
      Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in the orders, dear,
          Why are you kneeling ?

O haven't they stopped for the doctor's care
      Haven't they reined their horses, their horses ?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
          None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want with white hair;
      Is it the parson, is it, is it ?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
          Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer who lives so near
      It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farm already, dear,
          And now they are running.

O where are you going? stay with me here!
      Were the vows you swore me deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
          But I must be leaving.

O it's broken the lock and splintered the door,
      O it's the gate where they're turning, turning
Their feet are heavy on the floor
          And their eyes are burning.