A Celebration of Women Writers

"Woman on the Field of Battle" by Felicia Hemans (1793 - 1835)
This Edition: Hemans, Felicia Dorothea. The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans London: Oxford University Press, 1914. pp. 310-311.

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Woman on the Field of Battle

    Where hath not a woman stood,
Strong in affection's might? a reed, upborne
By an o'er mastering current!
GENTLE and lovely form,
  What didst thou here,
When the fierce battle-storm
  Bore down the spear?

Banner and shiver'd crest
  Beside thee strown,
Tell, that amidst the best,
  Thy work was done!

Yet strangely, sadly fair,
  O'er the wild scene,
Gleams, through its golden hair,
  That brow serene.

Low lies the stately head,
  Earth-bound the free;
How gave those haughty dead
  A place to thee?

Slumberer! thine early bier
  Friends should have crown'd,
Many a flower and tear
  Shedding around.

Soft voices, clear and young,
  Mingling their swell,
Should o'er thy dust have sung
  Earth's last farewell.

Sisters, above the grave
  Of thy repose,
Should have bid violets wave
  With the white rose.

How must the trumpet's note,
  Savage and shrill,
For requiem o'er thee float,
  Thou fair and still!

And the swift charger sweep
  In full career,
Trampling thy place of sleep
  Why camest thou here?

Why?ask the true heart why
  Woman hath been
Ever, where brave men die
  Unshrinking seen?

Unto this harvest ground
  Proud reapers came,
Some, for that stirring sound,
  A warrior's name;

Some, for the stormy play
  And joy of strife;
And some, to fling away
  A weary life;

But thou, pale sleeper, thou,
  With the slight frame,
And the rich locks, whose glow
  Death cannot tame;

Only one thought, one power,
  Thee could have led,
So, through the tempest's hour,
  To lift thy head!

Only the true, the strong,
  The love, whose trust
Woman's deep soul too long
  Pours on the dust!

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