The Fire Brigade

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Hark! high o’er the rattle and clamour and clatter
      Of traffic-filled streets, do you hear that loud noise?
   And pushing and rushing to see what’s the matter,
      Like herds of wild cattle, go pell-mell the boys.

   There’s a fire in the city! the engines are coming!
      The bold bells are clanging, “Make way in the street!”
   The wheels of the hose-cart are spinning and humming
      In time to the music of galloping feet.

   Make way there! make way there! the horses are flying,
      The sparks from their swift hoofs shoot higher and higher,
   The crowds are increasing—the gamins are crying:
      “Hooray, boys!” “Hooray, boys!” “Come on to the fire!”

   With clanging and banging and clatter and rattle
      The long ladders follow the engine and hose.
   The men are all ready to dash into battle;
      But will they come out again? God only knows.

   At windows and doorways crowd questioning faces;
      There’s something about it that quickens one’s breath.
   How proudly the brave fellows sit in their places—
      And speed to the conflict that may be their death!

   Still faster and faster and faster and faster
      The grand horses thunder and leap on their way
   The red foe is yonder, and may prove the master;
      Turn out there, bold traffic—turn out there, I say!

   For once the loud truckman knows oaths will not matter
      And reins in his horses and yields to his fate.
   The engines are coming! let pleasure-crowds scatter,
      Let street car and truckman and mail waggon wait.

   They speed like a comet—they pass in a minute;
      The boys follow on like a tail to a kite;
   The commonplace street has but traffic now in it—
      The great fire engines have swept out of sight.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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