Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-1838 / England)
The Soldier's Grave
THERE'S a white stone placed upon yonder tomb,
Beneath is a soldier lying -
The death-wound came, amid sword and plume,
When banner and ball were flying.
Yet now he sleeps, the turf on his breast,
By wet wild flowers surrounded;
The church shadow falls o'er the place of his rest,
Where the steps of his childhood bounded.
There were tears, that fell from manly eyes,
There was woman's gentle weeping,
And the wailing of age and infant cries,
O'er the grave, where he lies sleeping.
He had left his home in his spirit's pride,
With his father's sword and blessing;
He stood with the valiant, side by side,
His country's wrongs redressing.
He came again, in the light of his fame,
When the red campaign was over;
One heart, that, in secret, had kept his name,
Was claimed by the soldier lover.
But the cloud of strife came upon the sky;-
He left his sweet home for battle;
Left his young child's lisp for the loud war-cry,
And the cannon's long death-rattle.
He came again - but an altered man:
The path of the grave was before him,
And the smile, that he wore, was cold and wan,
For the shadow of death hung o'er him.
He spoke of victory - spoke of cheer:-
These are the words, that are vainly spoken
To the childless mother, or orphan's ear,
Or the widow, whose heart is broken.
A helmet and sword are engraved on the stone,
Half hidden by yonder willow;
There he sleeps, whose death in battle was won,
But he died on his own home pillow.
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