Oh, were you never a schoolboy,
And did you never train,
And feel that swelling of the heart
You never can feel again?

Did you never meet, far down the street,
With plumes and banners gay,
While the kettle, for the kettledrum,
Played your march, march away?

It seems to me but yesterday,
Nor scarce so long ago,
Since all our school their muskets took,
To charge the fearful foe.

Regarding the third paragraph, Oxford Dictionary states that hardly and scarcely should not be used with not or other negatives, e.g. can't hardly. Is that proper to use nor before scarce?

And is it right to use "long ago since..."?

I can't make out the structure of this paragraph though the meaning seems clear to me.

  • It's okay. The nor is not related to scarce, but implies "not even".
    – Kris
    Dec 22, 2013 at 6:35

2 Answers 2


Because this is poetry, this sentence is allowed. In a typical English sentence, we would probably say something like "It doesn't even seem as long as yesterday" instead.


It is an atypical usage for two reasons:

  • "Nor" is usually paired with "neither" or some other negative. In this example, "and" would be more common.
  • As you note in your question, you wouldn't normally use a negative with "scarce".

That being said, the usage is fine because it is a poem and poems are allowed to break any rules they wish. The meaning is simply, "It seems to me but yesterday, and not so long ago, ..."

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