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War Poetry
Mary Robinson, 'The Camp' 
10th-Apr-2014 01:00 am
The Camp

Tents, marquees, and baggage-waggons;
Suttling-houses, beer in flagons;
Drums and trumpets, singing, firing;
Girls seducing, beaux admiring;
Country lasses gay and smiling,
City lads their hearts beguiling;
Dusty roads, and horses frisky,
Many an Eton Boy in whisky;
Tax'd carts full of farmers' daughters;
Brutes condemn'd, and man who slaughters!
Public-houses, booths, and castles,
Belles of fashion, serving vassals;
Lordly gen'rals fiercely staring,
Weary soldiers, sighing, swearing!
Petit-maitres always dressing,
In the glass themselves caressing;
Perfum'd, painted, patch'd, and blooming
Ladies -- manly airs assuming!
Dowagers of fifty, simp'ring,
Misses for their lovers whimp'ring;
Husbands drilled to household tameness;
Dames heart sick of wedded sameness.
Princes setting girls a-madding,
Wives for ever fond of gadding;
Princesses with lovely faces,
Beauteous children of the Graces!
Britain's pride and virtue's treasure,
Fair and gracious beyond measure!
Aid-de-camps and youthful pages,
Prudes and vestals of all ages!
Old coquets and matrons surly,
Sounds of distant hurly-burly!
Mingled voices, uncouth singing,
Carts full laden, forage bringing;
Sociables and horses weary,
Houses warm, and dresses airy;
Loads of fatten'd poultry; pleasure
Serv'd (to nobles) without measure;
Doxies, who the waggons follow;
Beer, for thirsty hinds to swallow;
Washerwomen, fruit-girls cheerful,
Ancient ladies -- chaste and fearful!!
Tradesmen, leaving shops, and seeming
More of war than profit dreaming;
Martial sounds and braying asses,
Noise, that ev'ry noise surpasses!
All confusion, din, and riot,
Nothing clean -- and nothing quiet.

by Mary Robinson
10th-Apr-2014 01:43 am (UTC)
Interesting in such a compendium to read between the lines and see what time period is being envisioned. In this case it's Napoleonic (or so, up to Crimea). If it were WWI or certainly WWII the picture would change - in details, if not in the overall. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose…
10th-Apr-2014 04:24 am (UTC)
Interesting indeed - how different, also, the details would read, were the camp in India. This poet is pre-Napoleonic:

"Mary Robinson (1758–1800) was born in England. Robinson was also known as the first mistress of the Prince of Wales, who would later become King George IV."
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