Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Conqueror's Sleep


Sleep 'midst thy banners furl'd!
Yes! thou art there, upon thy buckler lying,
With the soft wind unfelt around thee sighing,
Thou chief of hosts, whose trumpet shakes the world!
Sleep while the babe sleeps on its mother's breast-
-Oh! strong is night-for thou too art at rest!

Stillness hath smooth'd thy brow,
And now might love keep timid vigils by thee,
Now might the foe with stealthy foot draw nigh thee,
Alike unconscious and defenceless thou!
Tread lightly, watchers!-now the field is won,
Break not the rest of nature's weary son!

Perchance some lovely dream
Back from the stormy fight thy soul is bearing,
To the green places of thy boyish daring,
And all the windings of thy native stream;
-Why, this were joy!-upon the tented plain,
Dream on, thou Conqueror!-be a child again!

But thou wilt wake at morn,
With thy strong passions to the conflict leaping,
And thy dark troubled thoughts, all earth o'ersweeping,
-So wilt thou rise, oh! thou of woman born!
And put thy terrors on, till none may dare
Look upon thee-the tired one, slumbering there!

Why, so the peasant sleeps
Beneath his vine!-and man must kneel before thee,
And for his birthright vainly still implore thee!
Shalt thou be stay'd because thy brother weeps?
-Wake! and forget that 'midst a dreaming world,
Thou hast lain thus, with all thy banners furl'd!

Forget that thou, ev'n thou,
Hast feebly shiver'd when the wind pass'd o'er thee,
And sunk to rest upon the earth which bore thee,
And felt the night-dew chill thy fever'd brow!
Wake with the trumpet, with the spear press on!
-Yet shall the dust take home its mortal son.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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