The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Conscript's Farewell
The Conscript's Farewell
I had hoped that I should be
In thine age a staff for thee;
But when years have mark'd thy brow,
When thy step is weak and slow,
When thy hair is thin and white,
And thine eye hath lost its light,
I shall never seek thy side,
And thy faltering footsteps guide.
Where my country's banners fly
Proudly ‘neath a distant sky,
To the battle forth I speed,
There to fight and there to bleed;
Not because the foeman's lance
Glitters in the vales of France;
Not because a stranger's mirth
Rises round my father's hearth;
Not at glory's trumpet call,
Nor in freedom's cause to fall;
But because ambitious power
Tears me from my peaceful bower.
Yet amidst the battle strife,
In the closing hours of life,
Think not that my heart shall quail,
Spirit droop, or courage fail.
Where the boldest deed is done,
Where the laurel-wreath is won,
Where the standard eagles fly,
There thy son shall proudly die;
Though, perhaps, no voice may tell
How the nameless conscript fell!
Thy blessing, father.
It is hard to part from thee,
And my tears are flowing free.
While around thee gloom and night
Quench'd religion's blessed light,
Still thou bad'st my lisping voice
In the evening hymn rejoice;
And my childhood's prayer was said,
Ere thou bless'd my pillow'd head.
Oh, before I leave thee now,
Place thy hand upon my brow,
And with every treasured word,
That my infant ears have heard,
Bless me, mother.
Many an hour of boyish glee,
I have pass'd in joy with thee;
If with careless act or tongue
I have ever done thee wrong,
Think upon thy brother's lot,
And be all his faults forgot;
Thou may'st dry our mother's tears,
Soothe our sisters’ anxious fears,
Be their shield, their guide, their stay
Throughout many a coming day;
Freely with thy father share
All his secret weight of care;
Be what it were mine to be,
Had I still remain'd with thee,
And love me, brother.
Yonder is our favourite vine,
You must now its tendrils twine,
And when ‘neath its leafy bower,
You are met at evening hour,
Think how oft in by-past days,
There we waked the song of praise,
Till your beaming eyes are wet
With the tears of fond regret;
Then together fondly bend,
And your gentle voices blend.
Pray for me, sisters.