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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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1795.11
Anna's Complaint;
Or the Miseries of War; written in the Isle of Thanet, 1794
"Mrs. Moody"
The Universal Magazine, XCVI (March 1795), pp. 205-206
The Scots Magazine, LVII (May 1795), p. 314

                     A Ballad.

On Thanet's rock, beneath whose steep,
Impetuous rolls the foaming deep,
A lowly maid to grief consign'd,
Thus pour'd the sorrows of her mind:

And while her streaming eyes pursue
Of Gallia's cliffs the misty view,
Accurst she cries that guilty shore,
Whence William shall return no more.

Thou, cruel war, what hast thou done!
Thro' thee the mother mourns her son,
The orphan joins the widow's cries,
And torn from love—the lover dies.

Ah, William! wherefore didst thou go
To foreign lands to met the foe?
Why, won by war's deceitful charms,
Didst thou forsake thy Anna's arms?

Alas! full little didst thou know,
The monster war doth falsely show;
He decks his form with pleasing art,
And hides the daggers in his heart.

The music of his martial band,
The shining halberd in his hand;
The feather'd helmet on his head,
And coat so fine of flaming red.

With these the simple youth he gains,
And tempts him from his peaceful plains;
And by this pomp was William led,
The dangerous paths of war to tread.

Fair-sounding words my love deceiv'd,
The great ones talk'd, and he believ'd,
That war would fame and treasure bring,
That glory call'd to serve the king.

But wise men say, and sure it's true,
That war is theft and murder too;
Yet had my William thought it so,
He had not gone to fight the foe.

How blest could Anna see him now,
With shoulders bending o'er the plough;
Toiling to sow his native fields,
And reap the harvest Virtue yields.

Then happier lot would both betide,
A bridegroom he, and I a bride,
But these fond hopes return no more,
For dead he lies on yonder shore.

O in that battle's dismal day,
When thou, dear youth, didst gasping lay,
Why was not then thy Anna there,
To bind thy wounds with softest care?

To search with speed the nearest spring,
To thy parch'd lips the water bring,
To wash with tears thy bleeding face,
And sooth thee with a last embrace?

But thou, amid a savage train,
Wert mingled among heaps of slain,
Without one friend to hear thy sighs,
Or Anna's hand to close thine eyes.

Thou, cruel war, what hast thou done!
Thro' thee the mother mourns her son,
The orphan joins the widow's sighs,
And torn from Anna—William dies.

 


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Published @ RC

September 2004

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