Blood-red behind our guarded posts
Sank as of old and dying day;
The battle ceased; the mingled hosts
Weary and cheery went their way:
“To-morrow well may bring,” we said,
“As fair a fight, as clear a sun.”
Dear lad, before the world was sped,
For evermore thy goal was won.
Foremost of all on battle’s fiery steep
Here VERTUE fell, and here he sleeps his sleep.*
A fairer name no Roman ever gave
To stand sole monument on Valour’s grave.
* Major N. H. Vertue, of the Buffs, Brigade-Major to General Woodgate, was buried where he fell, on the edge of Spion Kop, in front of the British position.
All night before the brink of death
In fitful sleep the army lay,
For through the dream that stilled their breath
Too gauntly glared the coming day.
But we, within whose blood there leaps
The fulness of a life as wide
As Avon’s water where he sweeps
Seaward at last with Severn’s tide,
We heard beyond the desert night
The murmur of the fields we knew,
And our swift souls with one delight
Like homing swallows Northward flew.
We played again the immortal games,
And grappled with the fierce old friends,
And cheered the dead undying names,
And sang the song that never ends;
Till, when the hard, familiar bell
Told that the summer night was late,
Where long ago we said farewell
We said farewell by the old gate.
“O Captains unforgot,” they cried,
“Come you again or come no more,
Across the world you keep the pride,
Across the world we mark the score.”
By the hearth-stone
She sits alone,
The long night bearing:
With eyes that gleam
Into the dream
Of the firelight staring.
Low and more low
The dying glow
Burns in the embers;
She nothing heeds
And nothing needs—–
No more to watch by Night’s eternal shore,
With England’s chivalry at dawn to ride;
No more defeat, faith, victory—–O! no more
A cause on earth for which we might have died.
Lad, and can you rest now,
There beneath your hill!
Your hands are on your breast now,
But is your heart so still?
’Twas the right death to die, lad,
A gift without regret,
But unless truth’s a lie, lad,
You dream of Devon yet.
Ay, ay, the year’s awaking,
The fire’s among the ling,
The beechen hedge is breaking,
The curlew’s on the wing;
Primroses are out, lad,
On the high banks of Lee,
And the sun stirs the trout, lad;
From Brendon to the sea.