Landon in The Literary Gazette 1823/Cadets

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2251371PoemsThe Cadets. An Indian Sketch1823Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Literary Gazette, 1st February, 1823, Pages 74-75

See erratum at the foot of page 16 re correction to the title (The Cadets)


THE CADETS. An Indian Sketch.

The banners are flashing, hurrah, hurrah!
The sabres are clashing, hurrah, hurrah!
    For the star wept-on grave
    Of the conquering brave,
Who would not rush to the field? Hurrah!

On to the battle, hurrah, hurrah!
The war thunder's rattle, hurrah, hurrah!
    'Tis the music most dear
    To the warrior's ear,
For it calls to the combat, hurrah!

The death song is singing, hurrah, hurrah!
The death shots are ringing, hurrah, hurrah!
    By the musket's red peal,
    By the light of our steel,
We will stand to our colours or die, hurrah! L. E. L.

New words to the Air "The Campbells are coming.'

The ship rode o'er the waters gallantly,
Her pennons waving, hope and enterprise
Filling her white sails with their eager breath.
The shore lay dim behind. That Iong last look
Given at parting to our own dear land—
Our land of infancy, and home, and love —
Strained every eyeball now; and as the coast
Diminished to one dim and distant line,
How very tenderly each bosom clung
To all its old affections! Friends and home,
How dear they are when we are parting from them!
And "farewell" came, in all its many tones
Of hope, and sorrow, and anxiety,
Freshly upon the ear, as never felt
Deeply and truly till in that last glance!—
    On, on the vessel went. The waves grew red
Beneath the crimson of the setting sun;
Then rolled in silver light, when the pale moon
Claimed her so gentle empire o'er the sky,
Like the deep flush of anger calmed by meek
Enduring patience. How most beautiful
This radiant meeting of the sky and sea!
Above, the stars, like spirits in their pride
Wandering in music round their lovely queen,
Too glorious for idolatry. Beneath,
The ocean, like a mighty mirror, spread
In its immensity of emerald beauty.

Then all around so calm, so passionless,
The silence, and the stillness, and the light
Unbroken by a shadow,—how the heart
Must feel its finer impulses alive
At such an hour as this!—Upon the deck
Of that tall ship, the only thing whose image
Was stamped in darkness on the moon-lit waves,
Two Youths were leaning: one with the fair hair
And blue eyes, with that falcon glance which mark'd
The graceful Saxon, when with his good sword
He sought a home and heritage; the other,
Like a young Roman, with his raven curls
And dark and flashing eyes. Like two spring pines
The youthful Soldiers stood there, side by side
They stood, and talked of all those buoyant dreams
Which colour life but once—those morning lights
That shine so cloudlessly and pass so soon!
Hope's waters yet were fresh with them; the cares,
The earthly cares, that stain each nobler aim,
And withering sorrows, falsehood, discontent,
Had not as yet profaned thy sweetest fountain,
Delicious Hope! And there they leant, and spoke
Of battle, glorious battle, till each ear
Rang with the trumpet's music, and each eye
Flashed at the thought of its first field.—
Then gentler feelings gushed upon their heart.
Fireside remembrances and kind affections:
They dwelt on the last evening they had past
Within their sweet home-circle, and recalled
How each one prest more closely than their wont
Around the hearth, all conscious that to-morrow
A vacant place would be in that sweet ring;
How each affectionate lip had prophesied
Fortune and fame; and how in glistening eyes
Hope had looked up but in the midst of tears
And then, at if each felt there was a tie
Of stronger unity in these recallings,

Each the more kindly grasped the other's hand,
And said again—they'd live or die together. - - -
- - Years have pass'd by; those youths are in their summer;
Each cheek is darkened by an Indian sky:
Some of hope's hues have faded like their colour,
Their island colour, but enow remain
To make life's landscape still most promising.
Disease, the brand, the ball, alike have spared them,
Still they have fought together. Many times
Have English friends been proud to hear their name.
    It is an Indian night: a starless sky
Flooded with moonlight—dark and giant palms
Fling their long shadows o'er the azure river—
The air is heavy with perfume—the dew,
Like love's power over woman, calling forth
The soul of sweetness, on the sumbal lies,
Till every scarlet berry yields its incense;
The pale mangolia[1], with its flowers of light,
The carmalata, crimson as a blush,
All, all yield their sweet offerings to the moon:—
But war is in these groves, and the white tents,
Where dwell the children of the sword,
Are pitched amid the yellow jessamines.
Steps dashed into the ground, the earth torn up
And sulphurous; patches of a blood-red hue,
And worst of all, the gashed and ghastly slain,
And the far sounds of tigers, who can scent
Their prey, yet scared by the red watch-fire’s gleam,
Howl in the distant jungles. They are here,
These brother Soldiers: each, wrapt in his cloak,
Sat by the river: they were talking o'er
Combats where each had been the other’s shield,
Marches whose weariness had been beguiled
By interchange of hopes; yet 'mid the pride
With which they waited for to-morrow’s battle.
Mingled a shade of deeper tenderness,
And each one charged the other with kind words,
Greetings of long remembrance, to old friends,

If only one should fall. Hark, hark! a rush
Of hurrying feet is heard amid the woods,—
A ringing peal of musketry, red lights
Flashing like meteors, clanging swords and shouts,
Deep groans, are on the wind—the enemy
Has rushed down from the mountains! Up they spring,
Those friends, and each is at his post. Dark night,
Oh terrible is thy shadow on the battle!
Blows dealt alike on friend and foe, the dead ,
And dying trampled on—oh, day alone
Should look upon the soldier's deeds! At length
The sun rose o'er his palm and diamond land:
His first light shone on blood—the morning's tears
Fell over patching lips and weary brows,
And quenched the death-thirst of full many a wretch
Already blackening in last agony.
But they are safe, those war-stars of the field,
The English warriors: one desperate rush,
And all gives way before them. See! they turn
Their recreant enemies: the dark-eyed youth,
Waving the colours, gallantly springs forth;
But death is on his course! that graceful arm
Is smitten in its strength. He fell, but stretched
With his last grasp the banner to his friend,
Who caught the flag, rushed forward as revenge
Were now his only hope. Why fall those colours?
Their gallant bearer never flagged before:
But fate hath marked him, too: they fell together!

L.E. L.

  1. presumably 'magnolia' is meant