Rose Hawthorne Lathrop

In The Artillery

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We are moving on in silence,
Save for rattling iron and steel,
And a skirmish echoing round us,
Showering faintly, peal on peal.

Like a lion roars the North wind
As a-horse we sternly clank,
While beside the guns our men drop,
Slyly shot from either flank.

You are musing, love, and smiling
By the hearth-fire of the Mill,
While the tangled oaks are cracking
Boughs upon the windy hill.

I can see the moonlight shining
Over fields of frozen calm;
I can hear the chapel organ,
And the singing of the psalm.

Fare you well, then, English village,
Which of all I loved the most,
Where my ghost alone can wander
Once again, when life is lost.

Fare you well, then, Sally Dorset;
You will never utter wail
For the soldier dead who loved you
With these tears of no avail!

I can see your drowsy lashes
Lifting as you hear them read
Prayers in mercy for our souls' shrift
When we come to our last need.

I forgive you, matchless beauty,
Proudly conscious of your fame,
Loved by many a luckless youngster
Who will ne'er forget your name!

Merry, though so cold of answer,
With a laughing glance of steel,
How your face swept like a banner,
Blushing down the village reel!

As you dance before my vision
On this deadly foreign morn,
Death is charmed into the soothing
Of the love you chose to scorn.

We shall die--our hours are numbered--
As the sunlight dawns serene
Over yonder mountain ridges,
Rimming round this battle scene.

I shall die--few will return, dear;
I shall be of those who stay:
England sent us, but a handful,
Among hordes of heathen clay.

We will show the world how England
Has no dross to spend in war;
When she throws away her soldiers,
They are soldiers to the core.

You will wake to hear the twitter
Of the early sparrow's note:
I shall lie beneath the heavens,
With the death-grip at my throat!

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Rose Hawthorne Lathrop