Home > Uncategorized > Thomas Campbell: The snow shall be their winding-sheet, every turf a soldier’s sepulchre

Thomas Campbell: The snow shall be their winding-sheet, every turf a soldier’s sepulchre


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Thomas Campbell: Selections on peace and war


Thomas Campbell
The Soldier’s Dream (1804)

Our bugles had sung, for the night-cloud had lower’d,
And the centinal stars set them watch in the sky,
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower’d,
The weary to sleep and the wounded to die!

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring faggot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night, a sweet vision I saw,
And twice ere the cock crew, I dreamt it again.

Methought, from the battle field’s dreadful array,
Far, far I had roam’d on a desolate track,
Till nature and sunshine disclos’d the sweet way
To the house of my Father that welcom’d me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields travell’d so oft,
In life’s morning’s march when my bosom was young,
I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And well knew the strain that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledg’d we the cup, and fondly we swore,
From my home, and my weeping friends never to part;
My little ones miss’d me a thousand times o’er,
And my wife sobb’d aloud in the fulness of heart!

Stay! stay with us! rest! thou art weary and worn;
And fain was the war-broken soldier to stay;
But sorrow return’d with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.

Battle of Austerlitz


On Linden when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,
And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.

But Linden saw another sight
When the drum beat, at dead of night,
Commanding fires of death to light
The darkness of her scenery.

By torch and trumpet fast arrayed
Each horseman drew his battle blade,
And furious every charger neighed,
To join the dreadful revelry.

Then shook the hills with thunder riven,
Then rushed the steed to battle driven,
And louder than the bolts of heaven
Far flashed the red artillery.

And redder yet those fires shall glow
On Linden’s hills of blood-stained snow,
And darker yet shall be the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.

‘Tis morn, but scarce yon lurid sun
Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun,
Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
Shout in their sulphurous canopy.

The combat deepens. On, ye brave,
Who rush to glory, or the grave!
Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave!
And charge with all thy chivalry!

Ah! few shall part where many meet!
The snow shall be their winding-sheet,
And every turf beneath their feet
Shall be a soldier’s sepulchre.

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