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    A Ballad of the Ranks

    by Arthur Conan Doyle
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    From Songs of Action (1898).


    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from over the Tweed.
    Then let him go, for well we know
    He comes of a soldier breed.
    So drink together to rock and heather,
    Out where the red deer run,
    And stand aside for Scotland's pride -
    The man that carries the gun!
    For the Colonel rides before,
    The Major's on the flank,
    The Captains and the Adjutant
    Are in the foremost rank.
    But when it's 'Action front!'
    And fighting's to be done,
    Come one, come all, you stand or fall
    By the man who holds the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from a Yorkshire dale.
    Then let him go, for well we know
    The heart that never will fail.
    Here's to the fire of Lancashire,
    And here's to her soldier son!
    For the hard-bit north has sent him forth -
    The lad that carries the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from a Midland shire.
    Then let him go, for well we know
    He comes of an English sire.
    Here's a glass to a Midland lass,
    And each can choose the one,
    But east and west we claim the best
    For the man that carries the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from the hills of Wales.
    Then let him go, for well we know,
    That Taffy is hard as nails.
    There are several ll's in the place where he dwells,
    And of w's more than one,
    With a 'Llan' and a 'pen,' but it breeds good men,
    And it's they who carry the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from the windy west.
    Then let him go, for well we know
    That he is one of the best.
    There's Bristol rough, and Gloucester tough,
    And Devon yields to none.
    Or you may get in Somerset
    Your lad to carry the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from London town.
    Then let him go, for well we know
    The stuff that never backs down.
    He has learned to joke at the powder smoke,
    For he is the fog-smoke's son,
    And his heart is light and his pluck is right -
    The man who carries the gun.

    Who carries the gun?
    A lad from the Emerald Isle.
    Then let him go, for well we know,
    We've tried him many a while.
    We've tried him east, we've tried him west,
    We've tried him sea and land,
    But the man to beat old Erin's best
    Has never yet been planned.

    Who carries the gun?
    It's you, and you, and you;
    So let us go, and we won't say no
    If they give us a job to do.
    Here we stand with a cross-linked hand,
    Comrades every one;
    So one last cup, and drink it up
    To the man who carries the gun!
    For the Colonel rides before,
    The Major's on the flank,
    The Captains and the Adjutant
    Are in the foremost rank.
    And when it's 'Action front!'
    And there's fighting to be done,
    Come one, come all, you stand or fall
    By the man who holds the gun.

    If you're writing a A Ballad of the Ranks essay and need some advice, post your Arthur Conan Doyle essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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