Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GRASP OF THE DEAD, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE GRASP OF THE DEAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twas in the battlefield, and the cold pale moon
Last Line: With his sword in his own brave keeping!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia


'Twas in the battle-field, and the cold pale moon
Look'd down on the dead and dying;
And the wind passed o'er with a dirge and a wail
Where the young and brave were lying.

With his father's sword in his red right hand,
And the hostile dead around him,
Lay a youthful chief: but his bed was the ground,
And the grave's icy sleep had bound him.

A reckless rover, 'mid death and doom,
Pass'd a soldier, his plunder seeking;
Careless he stept, where friend and foe
Lay alike in their life-blood reeking.

Drawn by the shine of the warrior's sword,
The soldier paus'd beside it;
He wrench'd the hand with a giant's strength,
-- But the grasp of the dead defied it.

He loos'd his hold, and his English heart
Took part with the dead before him;
And he honour'd the brave who died sword in hand,
As with soften'd brow he leant o'er him.

"A soldier's death thou hast boldly died,
A soldier's grave won by it:
Before I would take that sword from thine hand,
My own life's blood should dye it.

"Thou shalt not be left for the carrion crow,
Or the wolf to batten o'er thee;
Or the coward insult the gallant dead,
Who in life had trembled before thee."

Then dug he a grave in the crimson earth,
Where his warrior foe was sleeping;
And he laid him there in honour and rest,
With his sword in his own brave keeping!






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