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THE SOLDIER'S DREAM.
Our bugles sang truce, for the night cloud had lowerd,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky,
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd,
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.
When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring faggot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.
Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far, I had roam'd on a desolate track;
'Twas Autumn-and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.
I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young;
I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.
Then pledged we the wine cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and my weeping friends never to part;
My little ones kiss'd nie a thousand times o’er,
And my wife sobb’d aloud in her fulness of heart.
“Stay, stay with us ! rest! thou art weary and worn!”
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;
But sorrow return'd with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.
THE SOLDIER'S HOME.
My untried muse shall no high tone assume,
Nor strut in arms ;-farewell, my cap and plume !
Brief be my verse, a task within my power;
I tell my feelings in one happy hour:
But what an hour was that! when froin the main
I reach'd this lovely valley once again!
A glorious harvest fill’d my eager sight,
Half shock’d,* half waving in a flood of light;
On that poor cottage roof where I was born,
The sun look'd down as in life's early morn.
* Shocked, bound in shocks, or bundles.
I gazed around, but not a soul appear'd;
I listen’d on the threshold—nothing heard;
I call'd my father thrice, but no one came;
It was not fear or grief that shook my frame,
But an o'erpowering sense of peace and home,
Of toils gone by, perhaps of joys to come.
The door invitingly stood open wide;
I shook my dust and set my staff aside.
How sweet it was to breathe that cooler air,
And take possession of my father's chair!
Beneath my elbow on the solid frame,
Appear'd the rough initials of my name,
Cut forty years before! The same old clock
Struck the same bell, and gave my heart a shock
I never can forget. A short breeze sprung,
And while a sigh was trembling on my tongue,
Caught the old dangling almanacs behind,
And up they flew like banners in the wind;
Then gently, singly, down, down, down, they went,
And told of twenty years that I had spent
Far from my native land. That instant came
A robin on the threshold: though so tame,
At first he look'd distrustful, almost shy,
And cast on me his coal-black steadfast eye,
And seem’d to say (past friendship to renew),
“Ah, ah! old worn-out soldier is it you!"
Through the room ranged the imprison'd humble bee,
And bomb’d and bounced, and struggled to be free;
Dashing against the panes with sullen roar,
That threw their diamond sunlight on the floor ;
That floor, clean sanded, where my fancy stray'd
O’er undulating waves the broom had made;
Reminding me of those of hideous forms
That met us as we pass'd the Cape of Storms,
Where high and loud they break, and peace comes never;
They roll and foam and roll and foam for ever.
But here was peace, that peace which home can yield :
The grasshopper, the partridge in the field,
And ticking clock, where all at once become
The substitute for clarion, fife, and drum.
While thus I mused, still gazing, gazing still,
On beds of moss, that spread the window-sill,
(I deem'd no moss my eyes had ever seen
Had been so lovely, brilliant, fresh, and green,
And guess'd some infant hand had placed it there,
And prized its hue, so exquisite, so rare);
Feelings on feelings mingling, doubling rose;
My heart felt everything but calm repose;
I could not reokon minutes, hours, nor years,
But rose at once, and bursted into tears ;
Then, like a fool, confused, sat down again,
And thought upon the past with shame and pain.
I raved at war, and all its horrid cost,
And glory's quagmire, where the brave are lost.
On carnage, fire, and plunder long I mused,
And cursed the murdering weapons I had used.
Two shadows then I saw, two voices heard-
One bespoke age, and one a child's appear'd.
In stepp'd my father, with convulsive start,
And in an instant clasp'd me to his heart.
Close by him stood a little blue-eyed maid;
And, stooping to the child, the old man said,
“Come híther, Nancy, kiss me once again ;
This is your Uncle Charles, come home from Spain.”
The child approach'd, and with her fingers light,
Stroked my old eyes, almost deprived of sight.
But why thus spin my tale—thus tedious be?
Happy old soldier, what's the world to me!
THE TRAVELLER'S RETURN.
SWEET to the morning traveller
The skylark's earliest song,
Whose twinkling wings are seen at fits
The dewy light among.
And cheering to the traveller
The gales that round him play
When faint and wearily he drags
Along his noontide way.
And when beneath th' unclouded sun
Full wearily toils he,
The flowing water makes to him
Most pleasant melody.
And when the evening light decays,
And all is calm around,
There is sweet music to his ear
In the distant sheep-bell's sound.
And sweet the neighbouring church's bell
That marks his journey's bourn;
But sweeter is the voice of love
That welcomes his return.
THE RIVER OF LIFE.
The more we live, more brief appear
Our life's succeeding stages :
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.
The gladsome current of our youth,
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals, lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.
But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow's shafts fly thicker,
Ye stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker ?
When joys have lost their bloom and breath
And lite itself is vapid, *
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death,
Feel we its tide more rapid ?
It may be strange, yet who would change
Time's course to slower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone,
And left our bosoms bleeding ?
Heaven gives our years of fading strengti
And those of youth a seeming length,
Proportion'd to their sweetness.
* Vapid, empty, unsubstantial. t Indemnifying, making amends for, compensating.
THE AGED WANDERER.
“COME lead me, lassie, to the shade
Where willows grow beside the brook;
For well I know the sound it made,
When dashing o'er the stony rill,
It murmur'd to St. Osyth's mill.”
The lass replied—“The trees are fled,
They've cut the brook a straighter bed;
No shades the present lords allow,
The miller only murmurs now;
The waters now his mill forsake,
And form a pond they call a lake."
“Then, lassie, lead thy grandsire on,
And to the holy water bring;
A cup is fasten’d to the stone,
And I would taste the healing spring That soon its rocky cist* forsakes, And green its mossy passage makes.” “The holy spring is turn’d aside, The arch is gone, the stream is dried ; The plough has levell’d all around, And here is now no holy ground.” “Then, lass, thy grandsire's footsteps guide,
To Bulmer's Tree, the giant oak
Whose boughs the keeper's cottage hide,
And part the church-way lane o’erlook.
A boy, I climb’d the topmost bough,
And I would feel its shadow now.
“Or, lassie, lead me to the west,
Where grew the elm trees thick and tall; Where rooks unnumber'd build their nest
Deliberate birds, and prudent all;
Their notes indeed are harsh and rude,
But they're a social multitude."
“The rooks are shot, the trees are fell’d,
And nest and nursery all expell’d;
With better fate, the giant tree,
Old Bulmer's Oak, is gone to sea ;
The church-way walk is now no more,
And men must other ways :
* Cist, hollow, cup.