Bingen on the Rhine.
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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, as he took that comrade's hand,
And he said: "I never more 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 the pleasant vineyard ground,
That we fought the battle bravely; and when the day was done,
Full many a corpse lay ghastly pale beneath the setting sun.
And 'midst the dead and dying were some grown old in wars-
The death-wound on their gallant breasts, the last of many scars;
But 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 sons shall comfort her old age,
And I was aye 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 struggles 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 are 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 father's sword and mine),
For the honour of old Bingen-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 idly scorning,-
O friend, I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning!
Tell her the last night of my life (for ere this 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 slanting hill,
That echoing chorus sounded, 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-lovely Bingen on the Rhine!"
His voice grew faint and hoarser; 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-was dead!
And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down
On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown
Yea, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine,
As it shone on distant Bingen-fair Bingen on the Rhine!
Saturday morning, 27th July, 1867.
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Date of publication:
1867 shelfmark: L.C.1269(174)a
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