With Thoughts of Sergeant M---- (Pensioner), who died 185-
"WHY, Sergeant, stray on the Ivel Way,
As though at home there were spectres rife?
From first to last 'twas a proud career!
And your sunny years with a gracious wife
Have brought you a daughter dear.
"I watched her to-day; a more comely maid,
As she danced in her muslin bowed with blue,
Round a Hintock maypole never gayed."
--"Aye, aye; I watched her this day, too,
As it happens," the Sergeant said.
"My daughter is now," he again began,
"Of just such an age as one I knew
When we of the Line, in the Foot-Guard van,
On an August morning--a chosen few--
Stormed San Sebastian.
"She's a score less three; so about was she--
The maiden I wronged in Peninsular days....
You may prate of your prowess in lusty times,
But as years gnaw inward you blink your bays,
And see too well your crimes!
"We'd stormed it at night, by the vlanker-light
Of burning towers, and the mortar's boom:
We'd topped the breach but had failed to stay,
For our files were misled by the baffling gloom;
And we said we'd storm by day.
"So, out of the trenches, with features set,
On that hot, still morning, in measured pace,
Our column climbed; climbed higher yet,
Past the fauss'bray, scarp, up the curtain-face,
And along the parapet.
"From the batteried hornwork the cannoneers
Hove crashing balls of iron fire;
On the shaking gap mount the volunteers
In files, and as they mount expire
Amid curses, groans, and cheers.
"Five hours did we storm, five hours re-form,
As Death cooled those hot blood pricked on;
Till our cause was helped by a woe within;
They swayed from the summit we'd leapt upon,
And madly we entered in.
"On end for plunder, 'mid rain and thunder
That burst with the lull of our cannonade,
We vamped the streets in the stifling air--
Our hunger unsoothed, our thirst unstayed--
And ransacked the buildings there.
"Down the stony steps of the house-fronts white
We rolled rich puncheons of Spanish grape,
Till at length, with the fire of the wine alight,
I saw at a doorway a fair fresh shape--
A woman, a sylph, or sprite.
"Afeard she fled, and with heated head
I pursued to the chamber she called her own;
--When might is right no qualms deter,
And having her helpless and alone
I wreaked my lust on her.
"She raised her beseeching eyes to me,
And I heard the words of prayer she sent
In her own soft language.... Seemingly
I copied those eyes for my punishment
In begetting the girl you see!
"So, to-day I stand with a God-set brand
Like Cain's, when he wandered from kindred's ken....
I served through the war that made Europe free;
I wived me in peace-year. But, hid from men,
I bear that mark on me.
"And I nightly stray on the Ivel Way
As though at home there were spectres rife;
I delight me not in my proud career;
And 'tis coals of fire that a gracious wife
Should have brought me a daughter dear!"
Thomas Hardy's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (San Sebastian by Thomas Hardy )
Did you read them?
- To My Love, dr.k.g.balakrishnan kandangath
- Scrutinized As Being Abusive, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Sting, Foster Teegarden
- Some Ghoul, Foster Teegarden
- the man of christmas, Faith Taylors
- My Description, Foster Teegarden
- Scared to love you, leanne royle
- Pain, leanne royle
- Human, Foster Teegarden
- Frienship, bryan wallace
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- 1914 V: The Soldier, Rupert Brooke
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)