After The Battle

WE crown’d the hard-won heights at length,
Baptiz’d in flame and fire;
We saw the foeman’s sullen strength,
That grimly made retire—

Saw close at hand, then saw more far
Beneath the battle-smoke
The ridges of his shatter’d war,
That broke and ever broke.

But one, an English household’s pride,
Dear many ways to me,
Who climb’d that death-path by my side,
I sought, but could not see.

Last seen, what time our foremost rank
That iron tempest tore;
He touch’d, he scal’d the rampart bank—
Seen then, and seen no more.

One friend to aid, I measur’d back
With him that pathway dread;
No fear to wander from our track—
Its waymarks English dead.

Light thicken’d: but our search was crown’d,
As we too well divin’d;
And after briefest quest we found
What we most fear’d to find.

His bosom with one death-shot riven,
The warrior-boy lay low;
His face was turn’d unto the heaven,
His feet unto the foe.

As he had fallen upon the plain,
Inviolate he lay;
No ruffian spoiler’s hand profane
Had touch’d that noble clay.

And precious things he still retain’d,
Which, by one distant hearth,
Lov’d tokens of the lov’d, had gain’d
A worth beyond all worth.

I treasur’d these for them who yet
Knew not their mighty wo;
I softly seal’d his eyes, and set
One kiss upon his brow.

A decent grave we scoop’d him, where
Less thickly lay the dead,
And decently compos’d him there
Within that narrow bed.

O theme for manhood’s bitter tears:
The beauty and the bloom
Of less than twenty summer years
Shut in that darksome tomb!

Of soldier-sire the soldier-son;
Life’s honor’d eventide
One lives to close in England, one
In maiden battle died:

And they, that should have been the mourn’d,
The mourners’ parts obtain:
Such thoughts were ours, as we return’d
To earth its earth again.

Brief words we read of faith and prayer
Beside that hasty grave;
Then turn’d away, and left him there,
The gentle and the brave:

I calling back with thankful heart,
With thoughts to peace allied,
Hours when we two had knelt apart
Upon the lone hillside;

And, comforted, I prais’d the grace
Which him had led to be
An early seeker of that Face
Which he should early see.

by Richard Chenevix Trench

Other poems of RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH (15)

Comments (1)

well done brother, , its really nice