Page images
PDF
EPUB

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them,

Volleyed and thundered ;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them

Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade ?
O the wild charge they made !

All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made !
Honor the Light Brigade-

Noble six hundred.

THE CAVALRY CHARGE.

Hark! the rattling roll of the musketeers,
And the ruffled drums and the rallying cheers,
And the rifles burn with a keen desire
Like the crackling whips of a hemlock fire,
And the singing shot and the shrieking shell,
And the splintered fire of the shattered hell,
And the great white breaths of the cannon smoke
As the growling guns by batteries spoke;
And the ragged gaps in the walls of blue
Where the iron surge rolled heavily through,
That the colonel builds with a breath again,
As he cleaves the din with his “ Close up, men !"
And the groan torn out from the blacken'd lips,
And the prayer doled slow with the crimson drips,
And the beaming look in the dying eye

As under the clouds the stars go by,
“But his soul marched on," the captain said,
**For the Boy in Blue can never be dead !"
And the troopers sit in their saddles all
Like statues carved in an ancient hall,
And they watch the whirl from their breathless ranks,
And their spurs are close to the horses' flanks,
And the fingers work of the sabre hand-
Oh, to bid them live, and to make them grand !
And the bugle sounds to the charge at last,
And away they plunge, and the front is passed !
And the jackets blue grow red as they ride,
And the scabbards too that clank by their side,
And the dead soldiers deaden the strokes iron-shod

[ocr errors]

As they gallop right on o'er the plashy red sod-
Right into the cloud all spectral and dim,
Right up to the guns black-throated and grim
Right down on the hedges bordered with steel,
Right through the dense columns, then“Right about wheel !'
Hurra! A new swath through the harvest again !
Hurra for the flag! To the battle, Amen,

THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat

The soldier's last tattoo ;
No more on life's parade shall meet

The brave and daring few.
On Fame's eternal camping.ground

Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards with solemn round

The bivouac of the dead.
No answer of the foe's advance

Now swells upon the wind,
No troubled thought at midnight haunts

Of loved ones left behind :
No vision of the morrow's strife

The warrior's dream alarms :
No braying horn or screaming fife

At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust;

Their pluméd heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,

Is now their martial shroud.
The neighing steed, the flashing blade,

The trumpet's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade

The din and shout, are past.
Like the dread northern hurricane

That sweeps the broad plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,

Came down the serried foe.
Our heroes felt the shock, and leapt

To meet them on the plain :
And long the pitying sky hath wept

Above our gallant slain.
Sons of our consecrated ground,

Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound

Along the sleepless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil

Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil-

The ashes of her brave.

So 'neath their parent turf they rest,

Far from the gory field;
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast,

On many a bloody shield.
The sunshine of their native sky

Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred hearts and eyes watch by

The heroes' sepulchre.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead !

Dear as the blood you gave ;
No impious footsteps here shall tread

The herbage of your grave.
Nor shall your glory be forgot

While Fame her record keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot

Where Valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless tone

In deathless songs shall tell,
When many a vanquished age hath flown,

The story how ye fell.
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,

Nor time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb.

BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.
Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,

As his corse to the rampart we hurried ;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot

O'er the grave where our hero we buried
We buried him darkly at dead of night,

The sods with our bayonets turning ;
By the struggling moonbeams' misty light

And the lantern dimly burning.
No useless coffin enclosed his breast,

Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest

With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said,

And we spoke not a word of sorrow,
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,

And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
We thought as we hollowed his narrow bed,

And smoothed down his lonely pillow, That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,

And we far away on the billow.

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone

And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him ;
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on

In the grave where a Briton has laid him.
But half of our heavy task was done

When the clock struck the hour for retiring; And we heard the distant and random gun

That the foe was sullenly firing. Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone-
But we left him alone with his glory.

THE BRAVE AT HOME.
The maid who binds her warrior's sash,

With smile that well her pain dissembles,
The while beneath her drooping lash

One starry tear-drop hangs and trembles,Though heaven alone records the tear,

And fame shall never know her story,
Her heart has shed a drop as dear

As e'er bedewed the field of glory.
The wife who girds her husband's sword,

'Mid little ones who weep or wonder, And bravely speaks the cheering word,

What though her heart be rent asunder, Doomed nightly, in her dreams, to hear

The bolts of death around him rattle, Hath shed as sacred blood as e'er

Was poured upon the field of battle. The mother who conceals her grief,

While to her breast her son she presses, Then breathes a few brave words and brief,

Kissing the patriot brow she presses ;
With no one but her secret God

To know the pain that weighs upon her,
Sheds holy blood as e'er the sod
Received on Freedom's field of honor.

DIRGE FOR THE SOLDIER.
Close his eyes; his work is done.

What to him is friend or foeman,
Rise of moon, or set of sun,
Hand of man, or kiss of woman ?

Lay him low ; lay him low,

In the clover or the snow !
What cares he? He cannot know.

Lay him low !

As man may, he fought his fight,

Proved his truth by his endeavor ;
Let him sleep in solemn right,
Sleep forever and forever.

Lay him low; lay him low,

In the clover or the snow !
What cares he? He cannot know,

Lay him low !
Fold him in his country's stars,

Roll the drum, and fire the volley;
What to him are all our wars, -
What but death-bemocking folly ?

Lay him low ; lay him low,

In the clover or the snow !
What cares he ? He cannot know;

Lay him low!
Leave him to God's watching eye,

Trust him to the hand that made him :
Mortal love sweeps idly by ;
God alone has power to aid him.

Lay him low ; lay him low,

In the clover or the snow ! What cares he ? He cannot know.

Lay him low !

AFTER ALL.
The apples are ripe in the orchard,

The work of the reaper is done,
And the golden woodlands redden

In the blood of the dying sun. At the cottage door the grandsire

Sits, pale, in his easy-chair,
While a gentle wind of twilight

Plays with his silver hair.
A woman is kneeling beside him ;

A fair young head is prest,
In the first wild passion of sorrow,

Against his aged breast.
And far from over the distance

The faltering echoes come,
Of the flying blast of trumpet

And the rattling roll of drum. Then the grandsire spake in a whisper,

The end no man can see ; But we give him to his country, And we give our prayers to Thee." ..

« PreviousContinue »