BETA

Elegy

Composed on the Field of Pinkie.


Behold, already from the southern sky,1
While rapidly the hue of day declines2
Down on a peaceful world, with golden eye,3
O’er a white cloud the star of evening shines.4
How silently the beams of crimson light,5
Decaying, leave the oak’s umbrageous pride.6
How silently the mantle of the night,7
Outspread, is deepening on yon mountain side.8
Who e’er would think, whose peace-enraptur’d eye9
Broods on the gloom of this o’erreaching wood,10
That battle swept with rustling garments by,11
And dying groans disturbed its solitude!12
Yes ! ’ mid these fields the standard was unfurl’d,13
And serried spears were glittering in the sun ;14
Loud neighed the war-steeds, and the west wind curl’d15
Locks, that were bloody ere the fight was done !16
And ’ neath the very turf on which ye tread,17
All bright with bloom, the bones uncoffin’d lie,18
Of such as, bent upon heroic deed,19
Were by opposing weapons doomed to die.20
Yes ! many a mother’s pride, and father’s joy,21
Here, by disastrous fate, from earth was swept ;22
And, while they marvell’d what delayed their boy,23
On each cold grave her dews pale Evening wept.24
And from these vallies many a maiden fair25
Look’d—languished for the youth belov’d in vain ; 26
Till hope, long baffled, yielded to despair,27
And welcome death relieved the heart from pain.28
And yon small streamlet, limpid now and clear,29
’Mid woven wild flowers winding on its way30
Thro’ waste and trodden paths, with slaughter drear,31
Ran dark and bloody thro’ the livelong day. *32
Long centuries have circled round since then ;33
And they, who fell, or triumph’d on that day,34
Alike are hid in death’s unfathom’d den,35
Melted from sight; and mouldered into clay !36
Victors and vanquish’d—both are vanish’d now !37
Like doom hath swept pursuers and pursued ;38
Above their bones hath pass’d the vernal plow, 39
Or cypress shades their church-yard solitude.40
Yes ! gallant spirits, that have proudly thought41
To earn the meed of everlasting fame,42
Have pass’d unhonour’d by the prize they sought,43
Nor left behind one vestige in a name !44
Oh ! would that Man would kneel at Wisdom’s shrine,45
And Truth aside the shades of Error rend ;46
That Sin would list “ the still small voice” divine,47
And thoughtless hearts regard their latter end !48
The sheep-bell’s tinkle on the breezes borne,49
With Music’s dying strain, salutes the ear ;50
And, save the rustle of the ripening corn,51
No other sounds can aw’d Attention hear.52
What see’st thou now, resplendent Evening Star ?53
Nought but the quiet woods, and darkened stream ;54
The shadowy azure mountain-tops afar,55
And clouds yet bright with day’s departing beam.56
Peaceful and silent, Pinkie’s turrets peer57
Above the summits of the twilight grove ;58
And History’s tongue alone records that here59
The war-cry sounded, and the mighty strove.60
Here may the Moralist, at eventide,61
Slow-pacing, thoughtful, o’er the quiet lawn62
Regret the weaknesses of human pride,63
And sigh that men should be the foes of man !64

* Tradition reports, that the burn of Pinkie ran crimsoned with blood for three days
after the battle ; in the context the liberty has been taken of shortening the term.