Poems That Every Child Should Know/The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna

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For other versions of this work, see The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna.
57299Poems That Every Child Should Know — The Burial of Sir John Moore at CorunnaCharles Wolfe

The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna.

"The Burial of Sir John Moore" was one of my reading-lessons when I was a child. A distinguished teacher says: "It has become a part of popular education, as has also "The Eve of Waterloo" and "The Death of Napoleon." They are all poems of great rhythmical swing, intense and graphic. (1791-1823.)

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light,
And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow.
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him,—
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone—
But we left him alone with his glory!

C. Wolfe.