Sydney Thompson Dobell

(1824-1874 / England)

Lady Constance - Poem by Sydney Thompson Dobell

My Love, my Lord,
I think the toil of glorious day is done.
I see thee leaning on thy jewelled sword,
And a light-hearted child of France
Is dancing to thee in the sun,
And thus he carols in his dance.


'Oh, a gallant sans peur
Is the merry chasseur,
With his fanfaron horn and his rifle ping-pang!
And his grand havresack
Of gold on his back,
His pistol cric-crac!
And his sword cling-clang!


Oh, to see him blithe and gay
From some hot and bloody day,
Come to dance the night away till the bugle blows 'au rang,'
With a wheel and a whirl
And a wheeling waltzing girl,
And his bow, 'place aux dames!' and his oath 'feu et sang!'
And his hop and his fling
Till his gold and silver ring
To the clatter and the clash of his sword cling-clang!


But hark,
Thro' the dark,
Up goes the well-known shout!
The drums beat the turn out!
Cut short your coarting, Monsieur l' Amant!
Saddle! mount! march! trot!
Down comes the storm of shot,
The foe is at the charge! En avant!


His jolly havresack
Of gold is on his back,
Hear his pistol cric-crac! hear his rifle ping-pang!


Vive l' Empereur!
And where's the Chasseur?


He's in
Among the din
Steel to steel cling-clang!'


And thou within the doorway of thy tent
Leanest at ease with careless brow unbent,
Watching the dancer in as pleased a dream
As if he were a gnat i' the evening gleam,
And thou and I were sitting side by side
Within the happy bower
Where oft at this same hour
We watched them the sweet year I was a bride.


My Love, my Lord,
Leaning so grandly on thy jewelled sword,
Is there no thought of home to whisper thee,
None can relieve the weary guard I keep,
None wave the flag of breathing truce for me,
Nor sound the hours to slumber or to weep?
Once in a moon the bugle breaks thy rest,
I count my days by trumpets and alarms:
Thou liest down in thy warcloak and art blest,
While I, who cannot sleep but in thine arms,
Wage night and day fresh fields unknown to fame,
Arm, marshal, march, charge, fight, fall, faint, and die,
Know all a soldier can endure but shame,
And every chance of warfare but to fly.
I do not murmur at my destiny:
It can but go with love, with whom it came,
And love is like the sun-his light is sweet,
And sweet his shadow-welcome both to me!
Better for ever to endure that hurt
Which thou canst taste but once than once to lie
At ease when thou hast anguish. Better I
Be often sad when thou art gay than gay
One moment of thy sorrow. Tho' I pray
Too oft I shall win nothing of the sky
But my unfilled desire and thy desert
Can take it and still lack. Oh, might I stay
At the shut gates of heaven! that so I meet
Each issuing fate, and cling about his feet
And melt the dreadful purpose of his eye,
And not one power pass unimpleaded by
Whose bolt might be for thee! Aye, love is sweet
In shine or shade! But love hath jealousy,
That knowing but so little thinks so much!
And I am jealous of thee even with such
A fatal knowledge. For I wot too well
In the set season that I cannot tell
Death will be near thee. This thought doth deflour
All innocence from time. I dare not say
'Not now,' but for the instant cull the hour,
And for the hour reap all the doubtful day,
And for the day the year: and so, forlorn,
From morn till night, from startled night till morn,
Like a blind slave I bear thine heavy ill
Till thy time comes to take it: come when 't will
The broken slave will bend beneath it still.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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