Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BINGEN ON THE RHINE, by CAROLINE ELIZABETH SARAH SHERIDAN NORTON



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BINGEN ON THE RHINE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A soldier of the legion lay dying in algiers
Last Line: The rhine.
Alternate Author Name(s): Stevenson, Pearce; Stirling-maxwell, Lady; Norton, The Honourable Mrs. Caroline
Subject(s): Germany; Patriotism; War; Germans


A SOLDIER Of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,
There was lack of woman's nursing, there was
dearth of woman's tears;
But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-
blood ebbed away,
And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he
might say.
The dying soldier faltered, and he took that com-
rade's hand,
And he said, "I nevermore shall see my own,
my native land;
Take a message, and a token, to some distant
friends of mine,
For I was born at Bingen, -- at Bingen on the
Rhine.
" 'Tell my brothers and companions, when they
meet and crowd around,
To hear my mournful story, in that pleasant
vineyard ground,
That we fought the battle bravely, and when the
day was done,
Full many a corse lay ghastly pale beneath the
setting sun;
And, mid the dead and dying, were some grown
old in wars, --
The death-wound on their gallant breasts, the
last of many scars;
And some were young, and suddenly beheld life's
morn decline, --
And one had come from Bingen, -- fair Bingen on
the Rhine.

"Tell my mother that her other son shall com-
fort her old age;
For I was still a truant bird, that thought his
home a cage.
For my father was a soldier, and even as a child
My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of strug-
gles fierce and wild;
And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty
hoard,
I let them take whate'er they would, but kept
my father's sword;
And with boyish love I hung it where the bright
light used to shine,
On the cottage wall at Bingen, - calm Bingen on
the Rhine

"Tell my sister not to weep for me and sob with
drooping head,
When the troops come marching home again
with glad and gallant tread,
But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and
steadfast eye,
For her brother was a soldier too, and not afraid
to die;
And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her in my
name
To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame,
And to hang the old sword in its place (my fath-
er's sword and mine)
For the honor of old laingent -- dear Bingen on the
Rhine.

"There's another, -- not a sister; in the happy
days gone by
You'd have known her by the merriment that
sparkled in her eye;
Too innocent for coquetry, -- too fond for idle
scorning, --
O friend! I fear the lightest heart makes some-
times heaviest mourning!
Tell her the last night of my life (for, ere the
moon be risen,
My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of
prison), --
I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow
sunlight shine
On the vine-clad hills of Bingen, -- fair Bingen on
the Rhine.

"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along, -- I heard,
or seemed to hear,
The German songs we used to sing, in chorus
sweet and clear;
And down the pleasant river, and up the slant-
ing hill,
The echoing chorus sounding, through the evening
calm and still;
And her glad blue eyes were on me, as we passed,
with friendly talk,
Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-
remembered walk!
And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in
mine, --
But we'll meet no more at Bingen, -- loved Bingen
on the Rhine."

His trembling voice grew faint and hoarse, -- his
grasp was childish weak --
His eyes put on a dying look, -- he sighed
and ceased to speak;
His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of
life had fled, --
The soldier of the Legion in a foreign land is
dead!
And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly
she looked down
On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody
corses strewn;
Yes, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light
seemed to shine,
As it shone on distant Bingen, -- fair Bingen on
the Rhine.




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