The Soldier’s Widow learned with
honest pain 550
And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced 555
Far as the cottage. “A sad sight is here,”
She cried aloud; and forth ran out in haste
The friends whom she had left but a few minutes past.
While to the door with eager speed they
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised 560
Her bony visage—gaunt and deadly wan;
No pity asking, on the group she gazed
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed;
Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.
Fervently cried the housewife—“God be praised, 565
I have a house that I can call my own;
Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone!”
So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
And busily, though yet with fear, untie
Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet 570
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh
She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear;
Then said—“I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear; 575
Till now I did not think my end had been so near.
“Barred every comfort labour could
Suffering what no endurance could assuage,
I was compelled to seek my father’s door,
Though loth to be a burthen on his age. 580
But sickness stopped me in an early stage
Of my sad journey; and within the wain
They placed me—there to end life’s pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain:
For I shall never see my father’s door again. 585
“My life, Heaven knows, hath long
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek
May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb:
Should child of mine e’er wander hither, speak
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.— 590
Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,
My husband served in sad captivity
On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set him free.