The Soldier - Folk Song

A poem by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

(Roumanian)


When winter trees bestrew the path,
Still to the twig a leaf or twain
Will cling and weep, not Winter's wrath,
But that foreknown forlorner pain--
To fall when green leaves come again.

I watch'd him sleep by the furrow--
The first that fell in the fight.
His grave they would dig to-morrow:
The battle called them to-night.

They bore him aside to the trees, there,
By his undigg'd grave content
To lie on his back at ease there,
And hark how the battle went.

The battle went by the village,
And back through the night were borne
Far cries of murder and pillage,
With smoke from the standing corn.

But when they came on the morrow,
They talk'd not over their task,
As he listen'd there by the furrow;
For the dead mouth could not ask--

How went the battle, my brothers?
But that he will never know:
For his mouth the red earth smothers
As they shoulder their spades and go.

Yet he cannot sleep thereunder,
But ever must toss and turn.
How went the battle, I wonder?
--And that he will never learn!

When winter trees bestrew the path,
Still to the twig a leaf or twain
Will cling and weep, not Winter's wrath,
But that foreknown, forlorner pain--
To fall when green leaves come again!

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