Here doth the earth, with flowers of every hue,
Heap her green breast when April suns are bright,
Flowers of the morning-red, or ocean-blue,
Or like the mountain frost of silvery white.
Currents of fragrance, from the orange tree,
And sward of violets, breathing to and fro,
Mingle, and wandering out upon the sea,
Refresh the idle boatsman where they blow.
Yet even here, as under harsher climes,
Tears for the loved and early lost are shed;
That soft air saddens with the funeral chimes,
Those shining flowers are gathered for the dead.
Here once a child, a smiling playful one,
All the day long caressing and caressed,
Died when its little tongue had just begun
To lisp the names of those it loved the best.
The father strove his struggling grief to quell,
The mother wept as mothers use to weep,
Two little sisters wearied them to tell
When their dear Carlo would awake from sleep.
Within an inner room his couch they spread,
His funeral couch; with mingled grief and love,
They laid a crown of roses on his head,
And murmured, “Brighter is his crown above.”
They scattered round him, on the snowy sheet,
Laburnum’s strings of sunny-coloured gems,
Sad hyacinths, and violets dim and sweet,
And orange blossoms on their dark green stems.
And now the hour is come, the priest is there;
Torches are lit and bells are tolled; they go,
With solemn rites of blessing and of prayer,
To lay the little corpse in earth below.
The door is opened; hark! that quick glad cry;
Carlo has waked, has waked, and is at play;
The little sisters laugh and leap, and try
To climb the bed on which the infant lay.
And there he sits alone, and gayly shakes
In his full hands, the blossoms red and white,
And smiles with winking eyes, like one who wakes
From long deep slumbers at the morning light.
Once this soft turf, this rivulet’s sands,
Were trampled by a hurrying crowd,
And fiery hearts and armed hands
Encountered in the battle cloud.
Ah! I never shall the land forget
How gushed the life-blood of her brave—
Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought to save.
Now all is calm, and fresh, and still,
Alone the chirp of flitting bird,
And talk of children on the hill,
And bell of wandering kine are heard.
No solemn host goes trailing by
The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain;
Men start not at the battle-cry,
Oh, be it never heard again!
Soon rested those who fought; but thou
Who minglest in the harder strife
For truths which men receive not now
Thy warfare only ends with life.
A friendless warfare! lingering long
Through weary day and weary year.
A wild and many-weaponed throng
Hang on thy front, and flank, and rear.