John Banim

(1798-1842 / Ireland)

The Irish Soldier


The Irish soldier, cast for fight,
Stood to his arms at dead of night,
Watching the east, until its ray
To the battle--field should show his way;--
Soldier, soldier, soldier brave,
You will fight though they call you slave,
And though you but help a bandit hand
Uncheck'd to kill in your native land.

The soldier thought on his chance of doom--
How the trampled sod might be his tomb--
How, in evening's dusk, his sightless stare
To the small pale stars might upward glare;--
Soldier, soldier, soldier brave,
You will fight though you think of the grave--
Though it yawn so near you, black and chill,
Honor and courage man you still.

And o'er his solemn brow he made
The Christian sign, and humbly said--
``Your prayers, good saints, if I should fall;
And for mercy, O Lord, on you I call!''--
Irish soldier, soldier brave,
You will fight, although you crave
The prayers of the saints your own to aid,
And the sign of the cross on your brow have made.

The morning broke--the bugle blew--
The voice of command the soldier knew,
And stern and straight in the van he stood,
And shouting, he rush'd to the work of blood;--
Irish soldier, soldier bold,
Thousands lay round you, crimson'd and cold--
But over their bodies you still fought on,
Till down you sank as the day was won.

And the Irish soldier now hath come,
Worn, and wounded, and crippled, home,
The hated, and slander'd, and scorn'd of those
Who safely slept while he faced their foes;--
Irish soldier, soldier bold,
In your native land you now are told
'Twas traitor--blood on that field you lost,
For you call'd on the saints, and your brow you cross'd!

Submitted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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