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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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1811.3
Poor Joe
Anon
The Morning Chronicle (October 26, 1811)

While youth's early roses his cheek yet invested,
    The rough paths of glory ambitious to tread,
Poor JOE in the cause of his Country enlisted,
    With RAWDON THE VIRTUOUS[1] fought, conquer'd, and bled.

And when through all hazards their duty pursuing,
    The warriors of Britain plough'd Africa's wave,
Egyptia to free from invasion and ruin,
    He join'd ABERCROMBIE THE HAPLESS!—THE BRAVE![2]

But when by the horrors of battle surrounded,
    While general'd by heroes, his soul was serene;
For Death he not fear'd—till by folly confounded,
    He trod with a Chatham the shores of Walcheren![3]

Where from the low marshes, on dew-muffled pinion,
    The dark scowling daemons of pestilence rise,
O'er the frame of the warrior usurping dominion,
    Unstring his firm heart, and dejected he dies.

'Twas under the boughs of a tear-dropping willow,
    By the life-blasting mildew despoil'd of its green,
Lone, helpless, and dying, POOR JOE made his pillow,
    Lamenting his lot on the shores of Walcheren!

"Oh! sad was the hour when from England we ventur'd,
    "And cruel the mandate that bade us to sail;
"For with sickness and death was the contest we enter'd,
    "And who against sickness and death can prevail?

"When among my dear comrades as once I contended,
    "Had the chance of the battle on earth laid me low,
"With the anguish of dying some cheer had been blended,
    "Some comfort had sooth'd the last pangs of poor JOE.

"For then had I fallen, though helpless and bleeding,
    "While yet my Creator perception allow'd,
"As the last drop of life from my heart was receding,
    "I should have rejoic'd that for England it flow'd.

"But here all forlorn, doom'd to suffer and languish,
    "No enemy conquer'd, no purpose secur'd,
"Complaining I die, while the foe mocks my anguish,
    "Which trebles the misery I long have endur'd.

"Farewell, my dear ANNA! from you I must sever,
    "And thou, little orphan, I ne'er shall see more,
"Farewell: may kind Providence bless you for ever!
    "And soon may you cease your deep loss to deplore."

Thus thro' the long night near his station remaining,
    To the tear-dropping willow he utter'd his woe,
Till death put a period to all his complaining,
    And Heaven received the soul of POOR JOE.

Oh! England, throughout thy rich towns and sweet vallies,
    May the stern voice of Freedom and Virtue resound—
May they guard and reform both the Cottage and Palace,
    While the strong arms of Union enclasp them around.

So, the vile and the venal, far, far from thee driven,
    The sun of thy glory once more shall arise,
To cheer and illumine the path of the living,
    And heighten the bliss of POOR JOE in the skies.


Notes

1. Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Baron Rawdon, later first Marquess of Hastings (1754-1826), served with distinction in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1781).

2. Sir Ralph Abercromby, British naval hero of the Battle of Abukir Bay, August, 1798.

3. See footnote to Walcheren Expedition, 1810 (p.419).

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September 2004

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