Letitia Elizabeth Landon

(1802-1838 / England)

The Soldier's Funeral


The muffled drum rolled on the air,
Warriors, with stately step, were there;
On every arm was the black crape bound,
Every carbine was turned to the ground;
Solemn, the sound of their measured tread,
As silent and slow, they followed the dead.

The riderless horse was led in the rear;
There were white plumes waving over the bier;
Helmet and sword were laid on the pall,
For, it was a soldier's funeral.

That soldier had stood on the battle plain,
Where every step was over the slain;
But the brand and the ball had passed him by,
And he came to his native land, to die.

'Twas hard to come to that native land,
And not clasp one familiar hand;
'Twas hard to be numbered amid the dead,
Before he could hear his welcome said.

But, 'twas something to see its cliffs once more,
And to lay his bones on his own loved shore;
To think, that the friends of his youth might weep,
O'er the green grass turf of the soldier's sleep.

The bugles ceased their wailing sound,
As the coffin was lowered into the ground;
A volley was fired, a blessing said,
One moment's pause, and they left the dead.

I saw a poor and aged man -
His step was feeble, his cheek was wan;
He knelt him down on the new-raised mound,
His face was bowed on the cold damp ground;
He raised his head, his tears were done -
The father had prayed o'er his only son.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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