Poem of the day

The Song in Camp
by Bayard Taylor (1825-1878)

“Give us a song!” the soldiers cried,
⁠         The outer trenches guarding,
When the heated guns of the camps allied
⁠         Grew weary of bombarding.

The dark Redan, in silent scoff,
⁠         Lay, grim and threatening, under;
And the tawny mound of the Malakoff
⁠         No longer belched its thunder.

There was a pause. A guardsman said,
⁠         “We storm the forts to-morrow;
Sing while we may, another day
⁠         Will bring enough of sorrow.”

They lay along the battery’s side,
⁠         Below the smoking cannon:
Brave hearts, from Severn and from Clyde,
⁠         And from the banks of Shannon.

They sang of love, and not of fame;
⁠         Forgot was Britain’s glory:
Each heart recalled a different name,
⁠         But all sang “Annie Laurie.”

Voice after voice caught up the song,
⁠         Until its tender passion
Rose like an anthem, rich and strong,—
⁠         Their battle-eve confession.

Dear girl, her name he dared not speak,
⁠         But, as the song grew louder,
Something upon the soldier’s cheek
⁠         Washed off the stains of powder.

Beyond the darkening ocean burned
⁠         The bloody sunset’s embers,
While the Crimean valleys learned
⁠         How English love remembers.

And once again a fire of hell
⁠         Rained on the Russian quarters,
With scream of shot, and burst of shell,
⁠         And bellowing of the mortars!

And Irish Nora’s eyes are dim
⁠         For a singer, dumb and gory;
And English Mary mourns for him
⁠         Who sang of “Annie Laurie.”

S

leep, soldiers! still in honoured rest
⁠         Your truth and valour wearing:
The bravest are the tenderest,—
⁠         The loving are the daring.

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