A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/The Captive to the Swallows (Béranger)
THE CAPTIVE TO THE SWALLOWS
A soldier-captive by the Maure,
Who bent beneath his heavy chain,
Welcomed the swallows from afar,—
'O birds! I see you once again,
Foes of the winter, high ye wheel,
Hope follows in your track e'en here;
From well-loved France ye come, reveal
All that ye know of my country dear.
'For three long years I've sighed and pined
For some remembrance of the spot,
Where dawned upon my infant mind
Sweet visions of a happy lot.
Under fresh lilacs flows the rill
By which our humble cottage stands,
O speak of it,—I love it still,
Though fettered here in iron bands.
'Who knows but some of ye were born
Upon the roof, beneath whose shade
I first beheld the light of morn,
And by the gentlest mother played?
My mother! to her last sad hour,
She waited for my foot-fall's sound,
Then withered like a storm-crushed flower;
Speak of her love, while wheeling round.
'Speak of them all, the loved, the lost,
My sister, is she married now?
And have they e'er your wanderings crost
That were my playmates long ago?
Of all the friends that came of yore
With me, to win a soldier's praise,
How many have beheld once more
The cherished scenes of earlier days?
'Who live there yet? and who have died?
O speak, dear birds, for ye must know,—
Who slumber happy side by side?
And who, as exiles, live in woe?
My country's birds, your tidings tell,
As high ye circle in the air,
Though never heart for me may swell
Nor ever rise the mother's prayer.'