Home > Uncategorized > Susanna Blamire: When the eye sees the grief that from one battle flows, small cause of triumph can the bravest feel

Susanna Blamire: When the eye sees the grief that from one battle flows, small cause of triumph can the bravest feel

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Susanna Blamire
From The Cumbrian Village

“Welcome, old soldier, welcome from the wars!
Honour the man, my lads, seam’d o’er with scars!
Come give’s thy hand, and bring the t’ other can,
And tell us all thou’st done, and seen, my man.”
Now expectation stares in every eye,
The jaw falls down, and every soul draws nigh.
With ear turn’d up, and head held all awry.
“Why, sir, the papers tell you all that’s done,
What battle’s lost, and what is hardly won.
But when the eye looks into private woes,
And sees the grief that from one battle flows,
Small cause of triumph can the bravest feel,
For never yet were brave hearts made of steel.
It happen’d once, in storming of a town,
When our bold men had push’d the ramparts down,
We found them starving, the last loaf was gone,
Beef was exhausted, and they flour had none;
Their springs we drain, to ditches yet they fly –
The stagnant ditch lent treacherous supply;
For soon the putrid source their blood distains,
And the quick fever hastens through their veins.
In the same room the dying and the dead –
Nay, sometimes, even in the self-same bed, –
You saw the mother with her children lie,
None but the father left to close the sunken eye.
In a dark corner, once myself I found
A youth whose blood was pouring through the wound;
No sister’s hand, no tender mother’s eye
To stanch that wound was fondly watching by;
Famine had done her work, and low were laid
The loving mother and the blooming maid.
He rais’d his eyes, and bade me strike the blow,
I’ve nought to lose, he cried, so fear no foe…”

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