The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12567 Message #99820
Posted By: katlaughing
27-Jul-99 - 02:48 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Bingen on the Rhine (Caroline Norton)
Subject: ADD: Bingen On the Rhine
Hi, Susan, Dick, and/or Max,
Don't know if you enter poems in the DT, that should be songs or not. I posted this and another, Napoleon and the British Sailor, in the saddest songs thread and thought you might want to add them. If not, it's okay.
Bingen On the Rhine
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 besides him, while his life-blood ebbed away,
And bent, with pitying glanced, to hear what he might say.
The dying soldier faltered, as he took his 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 vintage ground,
That we fought the battle bravely, and when the day was done,
Full many a corse(sic) 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 leapt 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 what e'er they would, but kept my father's sword,
And with boyish pride 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, wiht 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 honor 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, -- to fond for idle scorning, --
O, friend, I fear the lightest heart sometimes makes heaviest mourning;
Tell her the last night of my life (for ere the 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 ot sing in chorus sweet and clear;
And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill,
The 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 -- loved 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 strewn;
Yea, calmly on the dreadful scene her pale light did shine,
As it shone on distant Bingen -- fair Bingen on the Rhine!
- Hon. Mrs. Norton -
I have always heard it pronounced "beeng gun", as in bing cherries; copied from "The Home Book of Poetry" given to my great-great aunt, Jennie Fountain, for Christmas 1882.
By Caroline Sheridan Norton (1808-1877)