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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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1796.4
Thomas and Kitty
"Scoto-Britannus"
The Courier (January 22, 1796)

Far on Batavia's sea-beat shore,
    On a bleak rock and bare,
The widow'd Kitty sat, and tore
    Her dark brown hair.
A little fondling at her breast
    She strove to soothe to peace,
As he her cold and bloodless nipple prest.
    Alas! when shall my sorrows cease?
When shall the storm be o'er?
    And in my clay-cold bed
    This weary, aching head be laid,
Where I shall grieve no more!

Now Kitty once, of fairest nymphs most fair,
    And Thomas gayest of his gay compeers,
Had pledg'd their faith a mutual fate to share,
    And hope had look'd for many happy years.
His little ALL he hazarded in trade;
    But, cruelly by Fortune cross'd,
    That little ALL in trade he lost,
By a false friend betray'd.
Now dunn'd with all the rigour of the law,
    Tom, as the clouds began to form,
The horrors of a jail foresaw:
    And oft would Kitty's tearful eye
    Extort a tender sigh,
And make him wish some shelter from the storm.

Poor shelter! with the vengeful blade,
To aid the slaughter Death had made,
He plow'd the wave with daring mind;[1]
Nor would his much-lov'd Kitty stay behind,
But to that foreign land would go,
Where he was doom'd to face the maddening foe.
Here, brought from Gallia's wide domain,
    War had his bloody eagle born:
Her Thomas fell among the slain,
    And Kitty she was left to mourn.

O'er his pale bloody corpse she hung,
Her heart with every sorrow wrung:
And now she grasp'd his cold, cold hand,
    And now she kiss'd his cheek so pale:
    And oft the day she did bewail
That e'er she left her native land:
    Her mind foreboding many fears,
She cross'd the wasteful ocean wild;
    And now of every stay bereft,
    To the hard world's mercy left—
And then she hugg'd her infant child,
    And bursted into tears.

O Thomas! 'twas a dreary day
    Thou left thy native home,
    In foreign parts to roam;
And now on the cold clay,
    Beat by the winds so chill and drear,
        Thou lay'st thy manly head
        Among the nameless dead,
Unwept by any friendly tear,
    But those thy Kate has shed.

    Ah me! the bitter blast!
Cease, cease, my little babe, to cry,
The world is wide for thee and I:
    Soon shall the storm be past.
Thy little limbs I shall infold;
And shield thee from the cold,
    No wind, tho' e'er so chill and drear,
    Shall harm my little dear.

Ah! thou too hastenest to thy grave,
    I see, I see Death in thine eye:
Thy mammy's fondness cannot save,
    For ah! her breast is cold and dry.
    —But all shall soon be o'er,
    And I shall grieve no more.

Now, rage ye winds! 'tis but on me,
    Pour on, ye rains—Ye thunders, reel!
    My baby sleeps too sound to feel.
        Drench'd with the rain,
    I'll lay me by my Tom once more,
    Tho' louder still the tempests roar,
        And all the biting blasts sustain.

—Ah me! my shivering, fainting heart!
My Tom! my Tom! we shall not part.
    Far from our home, from friends afar,
        My Tom, my little babe, and I
    Shall rest in one cold bed—Ah! ruthless War!
        My heart!—O Heaven!—I faint, I die.

Carron, December 6, 1795.


Notes

1. Peter L. Courtier, author of Poems (London, 1795). He continued to publish volumes of poetry through 1813.

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September 2004

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