The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Soldier's Prayer
The Soldier's PrayerEdit
Garden, in his “Anecdotes of the Revolution,” when describing the
sufferings of the army, mentions the circumstance of a soldier having
earnestly entreated permission to visit his family, which was refused, on
the ground that the same favour must be granted to others, who could not
be spared without weakening the army, whose strength was already reduced
by sickness. He acquiesced in the justice of the denial, but added,
that to him refusal would be death. He was a brave and valuable soldier,
and apparently in health at the time;—but his words were verified.
I care not for the hurried march through August's burning noon,
Nor for the long cold ward at night, beneath the dewy moon;
I've calmly felt the winter's storms, o'er my unshelter'd head,
And trod the snow with naked foot, till every track was red!
My soldier's fare is poor and scant—'t is what my comrades share,
Yon heaven my only canopy—but that I well can bear;
A dull and feverish weight of pain is pressing on my brow,
And I am faint with recent wounds—for that I care not now.
But oh, I long once more to view my childhood's dwelling-place,
To clasp my mother to my heart—to see my father's face!
To list each well-remember'd tone, to gaze on every eye
That met my ear, or thrill'd my heart, in moments long gone by.
In vain with long and frequent draught of every wave I sip,—
A quenchless and consuming thirst is ever on my lip!
The very air that fans my cheek no blessed coolness brings,—
A burning heat or chilling damp is ever on its wings.
Oh! let me seek my home once more—for but a little while—
But once above my couch to see my mother's gentle smile;
It haunts me in my waking hours—'t is ever in my dreams,
With all the pleasant paths of home, rocks, woods, and shaded streams.
There is a fount,—I know it well—it springs beneath a rock,
Oh, how its coolness and its light, my feverish fancies mock!
I pine to lay me by its side, and bathe my lips and brow,
'T would give new fervour to the heart that beats so languid now.
I may not—I must linger here—perchance it may be just!
But well I know this yearning soon will scorch my heart to dust;
One breathing of my native air had call'd me back to life—
But I must die—must waste away beneath this inward strife.