1794 9

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The Field of Battle
The Gentleman's and London Magazine (May 1794), pp. 271-272 [1]

Faintly bray'd the battle's roar,
    Distant, down the hollow wind;
Panting terror fled before,
    Wounds and death were left behind.

The war-fiend curs'd the sunken day,
    That check'd his fierce pursuit too soon;
While, scarcely lighting to the prey,
    Low hung, and lour'd, the bloody moon:

The field, so late the hero's pride,
    Was now with various carnage spread;
And floated with a crimson tide,
    That drench'd the dying and the dead!

O'er the sad scene of dreariest view,
    Abandon'd all to horrors wild,
With frantic step, Maria flew;
    Maria, sorrow's early child!

By duty led, for every vein,
    Was warm'd by Hymen's purest flame;
With Edgar o'er the wintry main
    She, lovely faithful wanderer, came.

For well she thought a friend so dear
    In darkest hours might joy impart;
Her warrior, faint with toil might chear,
    Or soothe her bleeding warrior's smart.

Though look'd-for long—in chill affright;
    (The torrent bursting from her eye,)
She heard the signal for the fight—
    While her soul trembled in a sigh—

She heard, and clasp'd him to her breast,
    Yet scarce could urge th' inglorious stay;
His manly heart the charm confest—
    Then broke the charm and rush'd away!

Too soon, in few but deadly words,
    Some flying straggler breath'd to tell,
That, in the foremost strife of swords,
    The young, the gallant, Edgar fell!

She pres'd to hear—she caught the tale—
    At ev'ry sound her blood congeal'd!
With terror bold—with terror pale,
    She sprung to search the fatal field.

O'er the sad scene, in dire amaze,
    She went—with courage not her own—
On many a corpse she cast her gaze—
    And turn'd her ear to many a groan!

Drear anguish urged her to press
    Full many a hand, as wild she mourn'd:
Of comfort glad, the drear caress
    The damp, chill, dying, hand return'd.

Her ghastly hope was well nigh fled—
    When, late, pale Edgar's form she found,
Half buried with the hostile dead,
    And bor'd with many a grisly wound;

She knew—she sunk—the night-bird scream'd,
    The moon withdrew her troubled light,
And left the fair, tho' fall'n she seem'd,
    To worse than death—and deepest night!

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