صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

HOW CAPTAIN SWORD WON A GREAT VICTORY.

Through fair and through foul went Captain Sword, Pacer of highway and piercer of ford, Steady of face in rain or sun, He and his merry men, all as one; Till they came to a place, where in battle-array Stood thousands of faces, firm as they, Waiting to see which could best maintain Bloody argument, lords of pain; And down the throats of their fellow-men Thrust the draught never drunk again.

It was a spot of rural peace,
Ripening with the year's increase,
And singing in the sun with birds,
Like a maiden with happy words —
With happy words which she scarcely hears
In her own contented ears,
Such abundance feeleth she
Of all comfort carelessly,
Throwing round her, as she goes,
Sweet half thoughts on lily and rose,
Nor guesseth what will soon arouse
All ears

that murder's in the house; And that, in some strange wrong of brain, Her father hath her mother slain.

Steady! steady! The masses of men
Wheel, and fall in, and wheel again,
Softly as circles drawn with pen.

Then a gaze there was, and valor, and fear,
And the jest that died in the jester's ear,
And preparation, noble to see,
Of all-accepting mortality;
Tranquil Necessity gracing Force;
And the trumpets danced with the stirring horse;
And lordly voices, here and there,
Call'd to war through the gentle air;
When suddenly, with its voice of doom,
Spoke the cannon 'twixt glare and gloom,
Making wider the dreadful room:
On the faces of nations round
Fell the shadow of that sound.

Death for death! The storm begins; Rush the drums in a torrent of dins; Crash the muskets, gash the swords; Shoes grow red in a thousand fords; Now for the flint, and the cartridge bite; Darkly gathers the breath of the fight, Salt to the palate, and stinging to sight; Muskets are pointed they scarce know where; No matter: Murder is cluttering there. Reel the hollows: close up! close up! Death feeds thick, and his food is his cup. Down go bodies, snap burst eyes; Trod on the ground are tender cries; Brains are dash'd against plashing ears; Hah! no time has battle for tears; Cursing helps better — cursing, that goes Slipping through friends' blood, athirst for foes'. What have soldiers with tears to do? We, who this mad-house must now go through, This twenty-fold Bedlam, let loose with knives To murder, and stab, and grow liquid with lives — Gasping, staring, treading red mud, Till the drunkenness' self makes us steady of blood ?

[O! shrink not thou, reader! Thy part's in it, too; Has not thy praise made the thing they go through, Shocking to read of, but noble to do ?]

No time to be “breather of thoughtful breath"
Has the giver and taker of dreadful death.
See where comes the horse-tempest again,
Visible earthquake, bloody of mane !
Part are upon us, with edges of pain;
Part burst, riderless, over the plain,
Crashing their spurs, and twice slaying the slain.
See, by the living God I see those foot
Charging down hill-hot, hurried, and mute !
They loll their tongues out! Ah-hah! pell-mell !
Horses roll in a human hell;
Horse and man they climb one another-
Which is the beast, and which is the brother?
Mangling, stifling, stopping shrieks
With the tread of torn-out cheeks,
Drinking each other's bloody breath -
Here's the fleshliest feast of Death.

[ocr errors]

An odor, as of a slaughter-house,
The distant raven's dark eye bows.

Victory | victory! Man flies man;
Cannibal patience hath done what it can
Carved, and been carved, drunk the drinkers down,
And now there is one that hath won the crown;-
One pale visage stands lord of the board -
Joy to the truinpets of Captain Sword !

His trumpets blow strength, his trumpets neigh,
They and his horse, and waft him away;
They and his foot, with a tired proud flow,
Tatter'd escapers and givers of woe.
Open, ye cities! Hats off ! hold breath!
To see the man who has been with Death;
To see the man who determineth right
By the virtue-perplexing virtue of might.
Sudden before hiin have ceased the druins,
And lo! in the air of empire he comes.

All things present, in earth and sky,
Seem to look at his looking eye.

OF THE BALL THAT WAS GIVEN TO CAPTAIN SWORD.

But Captain Sword was a man among men,
And he hath become their playmate again:
Boot, nor sword, nor stern look hath he,
But holdeth the hand of a fair ladye,
And floweth the dance a palace within,
Half the night, to a golden din,
Midst lights in windows and love in eyes,
And a constant feeling of sweet surprise ;
And ever the look of Captain Sword
Is the look that's thank'd, and the look that's adored.

There was the country-dance, small of taste;
And the waltz, that loveth the lady's waist;
And the galopade, strange agreeable tramp,
Made of a scrape, a hobble, and stamp;
And the high-stepping minuet, face to face,
Mutual worship of conscious grace;
And all the shapes in which beauty goes
Weaving motion with blithe repose.

And then a table a feast display'd,
Like a garden of light without a shade,

All of gold, and flowers, and sweets,
With wines of old church-lands, and sylvan meats,
Food that maketh the blood feel choice;
Yet all the face of the feast, and the voice,
And heart, still turn'd to the head of the board;
Forever the look of Captain Sword
Is the look that's thank'd, and the look that's adored.

Well content was Captain Sword;
At his feet all wealth was pour'd;
On his head all glory set;
For his ease all comfort met;
And around him seem'd entwined
All the arms of womankind.

And when he had taken his fill
Thus, of all that pampereth will,
In his down he sunk to rest
Clasp'd in dreams of all its best.

ON WHAT TOOK PLACE ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE THE

NIGHT AFTER THE VICTORY.

'Tis a wild night out of doors ;
The wind is mad upon the moors,
And comes into the rocking town,
Stabbing all things, up and down,
And then there is a weeping rain
Huddling 'gainst the window-pane,
And good men bless themselves in bed;
The mother brings her infant's head
Closer, with a joy like tears,
And thinks of angels in her prayers;
Then sleeps, with his small hand in hers.

Two loving women, lingering yet
Ere the fire is out, are met,
Talking sweetly, time beguiled,
One of her bridegroom, one her child,
The bridegroom he. They have received
Happy letters, more believed
For public news, and feel the bliss
The heavenlier on a night like this.
They think him housed, they think him blest,
Curtain'd in the core of rest,
Danger distant, all good near;
Why hath their “Good night” a tear ?

Behold him! By a ditch he lies
Clutching the wet earth, his eyes
Beginning to be mad. In vain
His tongue still thirsts to lick the rain,
That mock'd but now his homeward tears;
And ever and anon he rears
His legs and knees with all their strength,
And then as strongly thrusts at length.
Raised, or stretch'd, he cannot bear
The wound that girds him, weltering there :
And “Water!” he cries, with moonward stare.

[“ I will not read it!” with a start,
Burning cries some honest heart;
“I will not read it! Why endure
Pangs which horror cannot cure ?
Why - Oh why? and rob the brave,
And the bereaved, of all they crave,
A little hope to gild the grave?

Ask'st thou why, thou honest heart? "T is because thou dost ask, and because thou dost start. 'Tis because thine own praise and fond outward thought Have aided the shows which this sorrow has wrought.]

A wound unutterable - O God! Mingles his being with the sod.

[“I'll read no more.". Thou must, thou must: In thine own pang doth wisdom trust.]

His nails are in earth, his eyes in air,
And “ Water !” he crieth - he may not forbear.
Brave and good was he, yet now he dreams
The moon looks cruel; and he blasphemes.

[“No more! no more!” Nay, this is but one;
Were the whole tale told, it would not be done
From wonderful setting to rising sun.
But God's good time is at hand – be calm,
Thou reader! and steep thee in all thy balm
Of tears or patience, of thought or good will,
For the field — the field awaiteth us still.]

“ Water! water !” all over the field :
To nothing but Death will that wound-voice yield.
One, as he crieth, is sitting half bent;
What holds be so close ? — his body is rent.

« السابقةمتابعة »