Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Inkerman: The Battle Field by Moonlight - Caroline Hayward

Above the vale of Inkerman,
Calmly the moon's rays fell,
Revealing as by light of day,
That deep and lonely dell;
Tchernaya's waters as a band
Of silver graceful flowed,
But who can paint the ghastly scene,
Which those bright rays disclosed!

Thickly as leaves around the path
Through copse and brush-wood dense,
Lay piles of dead and wounded men,
Slain in that fierce defense.
The fearful moan, the struggles fierce,
The hoarse and gurgling cry
Comes on the night wind sweeping past,
Of mortal agony!

Around were groups of comrades true,
To succour those who still
From bloody contest breathing lay,
Upon that fatal hill.
Their slippery fearful way they take
Through paths beslimed with gore,
Ne'er on those Crimean hills had moon
Such sight revealed before.

But who are these with noiseless tread,
Who hurry fearful by,
Now fling them down beside the dead,
With soul-despairing cry,
As trembling, with wild eager gaze,
They search with sickening dread,
And the moon's rays too sure reveal,
Their husband with the dead!

Yet one redeeming feature still
Those moonbeams yet displayed,
Of men who with their British hearts
Their enemies forgave.
And tended gently, lovingly,
Their cruel bitter foe,
Who never yet had quarter given
To our brave men laid low.

For even then, above their heads,
Came murd'rous bullets sent
Among our brave and gallant men,
On mercy's errand bent;
And some there were who fiendish slew,
With their last parting breath,
The very hand which tended them,
Upon that field of death.

Lady Elizabeth Butler - The Roll Call:
The men of the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, after the Battle of Inkerman.
Caroline Hayward (19th century) Canada
The battle of Inkerman, Crimea, took place on November 5, 1854, with 3,300 allied soldiers killed. Tchernaya is on the river Chernaya, which forms the estuary of Sevastopol, where the town of Inkerman is found. This poem was written in the following year.

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