The Soldier at Night
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXVII (March 1807), p. 256
Come, sweet Sleep, come—my members crave repose,
Tir'd with the hard-fought contest of the day;
Come, sweet Sleep, come, my willing eyelids close,
And bid soft dreams around my pillow play.
O let the scenes of battle far to-night,
Far from my couch be scatter'd by thy breath;
Pain to my heart and sick'ning to my sight,
Are human groans and the red bed of Death.
O thou seducer of the human mind,
Thou bane of millions, and thou bliss of none,
Ambition! restless tyrant of mankind,
No knee bend I before thy bloodstain'd throne.
Yet coward am I none; nor small today
Hath been the glory which myself have won,
And many gallant heroes breathless lay,
Sad marks of what my wearied arm hath done.
Yes, I can feel my life's blood burning flow
With British ardour when the Foe comes nigh;
And when around the clashing sabres glow,
My soul exults, and when the bullets fly.
But still I long to view my native spot,
My wife and rosy babes again to see;
The cheerful fire blaze round my peaceful cot,
And take my infant prattler on my knee.
Haply, my loves, no more you'll bless my sight;
Or, if you do, first many months must fly,
And I again must mingle in the fight,
And bear new toils, and see my comrades die.
Ah! my belov'd! safe in my native vale,
Ye little know the hardships I sustain;
Cold on my slumbers comes the whistling gale,
Chill fall the drifting snow and drenching rain.
Lo! Fancy now, with soft ideas fraught,
Beholds you plac'd around your mother's knee,
Lisping the prayer her faithful love hath taught,
That Heav'n may guard your fire from danger's free.