Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SOLDIER'S FUNERAL, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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THE SOLDIER'S FUNERAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It is the funeral march. I did not think
Last Line: A mere machine of murder.
Subject(s): Fate; Funerals; God; Mortality; Murder; Religion; Soldiers; Destiny; Burials; Theology


IT is the funeral march. I did not think
That there had been such magic in sweet sounds!
Hark! from the blacken'd cymbal that dead tone—
It awes the very rabble multitude,
They follow silently, their earnest brows
Lifted in solemn thought. 'Tis not the pomp
And pageantry of death that with such force
Arrests the sense,—the mute and mourning train,
The white plume nodding o'er the sable hearse
Had past unheeded, or perchance awoke
A serious smile upon the poor man's cheek
At pride's last triumph. Now these measur'd soun
This universal language, to the heart
Speak instant, and on all these various minds
Compel one feeling.
But such better thoughts
Will pass away, how soon! and these who here
Are following their dead comrade to the grave,
Ere the night fall, will in their revelry
Quench all remembrance. From the ties of life
Unnaturally rent, a man who knew
No resting place, no dear delights of home,
Belike who never saw his children's face,
Whose children knew no father, he is gone,
Dropt from existence, like the withered leaf
That from the summer tree is swept away,
Its loss unseen. She hears not of his death
Who bore him, and already for her son
Her tears of bitterness are shed: when first
He had put on the livery of blood,
She wept him dead to her.
We are indeed
Clay in the potter's hand! one favour'd mind
Scarce lower than the angels, shall explore
The ways of nature, whilst his fellow-man
Fram'd with like miracle the work of God,
Must as the unreasonable beast drag on
A life of labour, like this soldier here,
His wondrous faculties bestow'd in vain
Be moulded by his fate till he becomes
A mere machine of murder.





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