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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1794.15
Ode
Anon
The Scots Magazine, LVI (August 1794), p. 474
The European Magazine, XXV (May 1794), pp. 389-390

To the Memory of the British Officers, Seamen,
and Soldiers, who have fallen in the present War.

While Mars prevails o'er earth and main,
Record, O Muse, the valiant Slain,
    Who fought for Britain's right;
Here smiling youth, there manly grace,
Abandon'd to Death's cold embrace,
    Are lost in shades of night.

No tender friend, no parent near,
Drops o'er their wounds the balmy tear
    Of pity or of love:
But fame eternal is their meed,
And ev'ry bold heroic deed
    Is register'd above.

If conquest crown our martial bands,
To Heav'n they raise their grateful hands,
    And meet resign'd their fate;
And if misfortune cloud the day,
Nor fugitives nor captives they
    Disgrace and scorn await.

No earthly foe o'er them has pow'r,
Victorious in that awful hour
    Which claims their latest breath;
Their soul with purest rapture flies
Triumphant to her native skies,
    Nor feels the sting of death.

Approach their tomb, ye chosen few,
Who Virtue's active path pursue,
    And shun ignoble rest.
But hence retire, ye slaves of Vice,
Whom Luxury's vain charms entice.
    Corrupters of the breast.

Ye cold philosophers, who zeal
For friends or country ne'er could feel,
    To seek this glorious lot;
And you, by sordid int'rest charm'd,
Whom never spark of honour warm'd,
    Forbear this hallow'd spot!

Your sumptuous mansions, letter'd case,
And hoarded gold, no long please,
    When barb'rous foes are near:
But shall this costly blood be spilt,
To snatch the sons of sloth and guilt,
    From danger and from fear?

No! Heroes bleed in Glory's cause,
Defenders of their country's laws,
    And just monarchal sway.
They bleed to save the guiltless maid,
To guard the tender orphan's head
    From insult and dismay;

To shield the rev'rend locks of age,
And ev'ry mild benignant sage,
    Who teaches heavenly lore:
To keep from wrong the silent grave,
Where rest the good, the just, the brave,
    And peace on earth restore.

Then sacred be each honour'd name!
Let Albion still their worth proclaim,
    And palms unfading bring.
For them parental chiefs shall mourn,
And fainted warriors o'er their urn
    Celestial dirges sing.

But when the martial trumpets cease,
And Victory conducting Peace,
    Diffuses joy around:
When notes of triumph rend the sky,
How many widow'd hearts shall sigh!
    What tears bedew the ground!

Their conq'ring friends shall then relate
How brave their deeds, how blest their fate,
    Who vanquish even in death:
And, musing o'er their glorious doom,
Unbind and place upon their tomb
    The well-earn'd laurel wreath.


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Published @ RC

September 2004