Life in its many shapes was there,
     The busy and the gay;
Faces that seemed too young and fair
     To ever know decay.

Wealth, with its waste, its pomp, and pride,
     Led forth its glittering train;
And poverty's pale face beside
     Ask'd aid, and ask'd in vain.

The shops were fill'd from many lands—
     Toys, silks, and gems, and flowers;
The patient work of many hands,
     The hope of many hours.

Yet 'mid life's myriad shapes around
     There was a sigh of death;
There rose a melancholy sound,
     The bugle's wailing breath.

They play'd a mournful Scottish air
     That on its native hill
Had caught the notes the night winds bear
     From weeping leaf and rill.

‘Twas strange to hear that sad wild strain
     Its warning music shed,
Rising above life's busy train,
     In memory of the dead.

There came a slow and silent band
     In sad procession by:
Reversed the musket in each hand,
     And downcast every eye.

They bore the soldier to his grave;
     The sympathizing crowd
Divided like a parted wave
     By some dark vessel plough'd.

A moment, and all sounds were mute,
     For awe was over all;
You heard the soldier's measured foot,
     The bugle's wailing call.

The gloves were laid upon the bier,
     The helmet and the sword;
The drooping war-horse followed near,
     As he, too, mourn'd his lord.

Slowly—I follow'd too—they led
     To where a church arose,
And flung a shadow o'er the dead
     Deep as their own repose.

Green trees were there—beneath the shade
     Of one was made a grave;
And there to his last rest was laid
     The weary and the brave.

They fired a volley o'er the bed
     Of an unconscious ear;
The birds sprang fluttering overhead,
     Struck with a sudden fear.

All left the ground; the bugles died
     Away upon the wind;
Only the tree's green branches sigh'd
     O'er him they left behind.

Again, all fill'd with light and breath,
     I pass'd the crowded street—
     O, great extremes of life and death,
How strangely do ye meet! [316]

Related material: Other “Scenes from London”


Landon, Latitia E. The Poetical Works of Miss Landon. Philadelphia: E.L. Cary and A. Hart, 1839. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the New York Public Library. Web. 17 July 2020.

Last modified 17 July 2020