The Dying Soldier; a Fragment
The Lady's Magazine, XXIX (1798), p. 325
Why did I wander from my native vale,
And leave my cottage, where Contentment smil'd?
Where all was happiness and peace.—Ah! why
Did I e'er mingle in the strife of kings,
And change the sickle for the gleaming sword,
The low-fenc'd garden for th' embattled plain,
Deep-ting'd with blood?—Ah, luckless was the day
When I did hie me from Pisena's vale,
And left all happiness behind!
Doth busy Memory delight to paint
Past scenes of peace.
Where is the wand'ring rill,
That, softly stealing through the dingle's shade,
Lull'd my young soul to rest?—Where now the wood,
In which I wander'd at the close of day,
To pluck the lily from its secret haunt;
Or the blue violet, that cast around
Its balmy fragrance?—Ah! where now the hills
O'er which I wanton'd, void of care, to catch
The spicy gale; or mark'd the setting sun
Tinge the blue surface of the distant main
With purple radiance!—Where, my Mary, now?
Sweet partner of my cot! thy simple lay
Oft cheer'd the winter's night, when round the fire
We sat, and hearken'd to the pelting storm;
Then near and nearer drew.—But thou, no more
Shalt see thy Henry; or at morn or eve
Alas, for ever fled!—But now a film,
Dim-spreading o'er mine eye, conceals the light
Of pallid Cynthia.—Ah, how chill's the hand
Of Death! and slow—still slower—flows my blood.
Scenes of my youth farewell.—Oh, God! I come.
Lynn, 16th March.