1812.1 - "The Absent Soldier's Lament"

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

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1812.1
The Absent Soldier's Lament
Anon
The Morning Chronicle (August 28, 1812)

Where slept these sinews when the deed was done;
    England all victory, and France dismay?
It makes me hate to look upon the sun,
    Ev'n hate to think of that illustrious day.

Oh! what an odious, tedious task to toil
    Thro' life's low, lazy, and inglorious sphere;
The swelling heart proud panting all the while,
    To beat and bound in glory's bright career!

What British soldier fir'd with such a heart,
    Who would not yield that heart's last throb to say,
(Ev'n as its pulse the soul and body part)
    "I fought on Salamanca's[1] splendid day?"

What British warrior, red with unfelt wounds,
    Would not with all his limbs or life repay
The proudest clang the trump of victory sounds,
    "I bled on Salamanca's trying day?"

What pious son, lamenting o'er the bier,
    Bending beneath a father's sacred clay,
But tells us in the glow of nature's tear,
    "My father fell on Salamanca's day?"

O, that my better destinies had spared
    My sword one flourish in that noble fray,
How had it blush'd because its master dared
    To add new glories to that glorious day.


Notes

1. The French in Spain were completely defeated by Wellington at the battle of Salamanca, July 22, 1812.

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Published @ RC

September 2004

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