The Soldier's Dream - Poem by Thomas Campbell 1863

lelliott19

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Reading @NH Civil War Gal 's recent thread "What Would a Wounded Soldier Dream About" reminded me of this poem, "The Soldier's Dream," written by Thomas Campbell and published in The Southern Flag Song Book in 1863. This one is kind of the opposite of the dream described in @NH Civil War Gal 's thread experienced by Charles Johnson after his wounding. Instead of dreaming about demons, rattle snakes, hell and brimstone like Johnson did, Campbell describes a vivid dream of home and family. It seems though that the opinions expressed by @bayonet @Lubliner @lurid and @Woods-walker in the other thread still apply here.

THE SOLDIER'S DREAM
by Thomas Campbell

Our bugles sang truce, for the night-cloud had lower'd
And the sentinel-stars set their watch in the sky;
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd
The weary to sleep and the wounded to die.

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.

Me thought from the battle-field's dreadful array
Far, far I had roam'd on a desolate track;
It was autumn, and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers that welcomed me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march when my bosom was young
I heard my own mountain goats bleating aloft,
And I knew the sweet song that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and weeping friends never to part;
My little ones kissed me a thousand times o'er,
And my wife sobb'd aloud in her fulness [sic] of heart.

"Stay, stay with us! Rest! Thou art weary and worn,"
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;
But Sorrow return'd with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away!

Sources
Image: Harper's Weekly, November 7, 1863, page 709.
Poem: The Southern Flag and Song Book, H.C. Clarke, bookseller and publisher, Vicksburg, MS and Augusta, GA, 1863, pp. 24-25.
 

lelliott19

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The Southern author had the delicacy of feeling
Thanks Bill. That expression is one that I just love. Unfortunately it is not often used any more. My grandmother used to tell me that just because you could do something didnt mean you should. It seems like during the war and later, people were just more considerate and magnanimous. Unlikely to just blurt out things that might be hurtful to others - even those with whom they disagreed and even though the war was still being fought. Perhaps if we all possessed such "delicacy of feeling" the world would be a much better place.
 

Fairfield

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Thomas Campbell died in 1844 so the poem may have been republished in 1863 but it was first published in the 1830's and repopularized by the Crimean War. Actually, I think it could be from just about any war. Thomas Campbell was a Scot so how the poem wound up in a Southern song book isn't clear (maybe someone just heard it and liked it).
 

lelliott19

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Thomas Campbell died in 1844 so the poem may have been republished in 1863 but it was first published in the 1830's and repopularized by the Crimean War. Actually, I think it could be from just about any war. Thomas Campbell was a Scot so how the poem wound up in a Southern song book isn't clear (maybe someone just heard it and liked it).
Thanks Fairfield! I appreciate the additional info. I suppose it's likely then that some of the other works published in the Southern Flag and Song Book were from earlier as well. Thanks again.
 

Fairfield

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Thanks Fairfield! I appreciate the additional info. I suppose it's likely then that some of the other works published in the Southern Flag and Song Book were from earlier as well. Thanks again.
Art and literature are international. This sentiment is global. Campbell was a Scot but had some Virginia connections: his father was a merchant who was ruined when the British lost and he, himself was some sort of in-law to Patrick Henry. I have a book of his poetry on my shelf.
 

Lubliner

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Most times with poetry I can't master the cadent structure (pentameter?) of the piece; similar to Grant being tone deaf I suppose. But this one poem was particularly touching in its simplicity of design and cohesive theme from the first to the last. Seldom have I wanted poems to continue and reveal more than what is given; but this one made me. It also made me think of the Lincoln dream of going upon a vessel at sea to a distant shore, and the heavenly home we reach when we are no more.
Lubliner.
 

Vicksburger

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View attachment 415355
Reading @NH Civil War Gal 's recent thread "What Would a Wounded Soldier Dream About" reminded me of this poem, "The Soldier's Dream," written by Thomas Campbell and published in The Southern Flag Song Book in 1863. This one is kind of the opposite of the dream described in @NH Civil War Gal 's thread experienced by Charles Johnson after his wounding. Instead of dreaming about demons, rattle snakes, hell and brimstone like Johnson did, Campbell describes a vivid dream of home and family. It seems though that the opinions expressed by @bayonet @Lubliner @lurid and @Woods-walker in the other thread still apply here.

THE SOLDIER'S DREAM
by Thomas Campbell

Our bugles sang truce, for the night-cloud had lower'd
And the sentinel-stars set their watch in the sky;
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd
The weary to sleep and the wounded to die.

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.

Me thought from the battle-field's dreadful array
Far, far I had roam'd on a desolate track;
It was autumn, and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers that welcomed me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march when my bosom was young
I heard my own mountain goats bleating aloft,
And I knew the sweet song that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and weeping friends never to part;
My little ones kissed me a thousand times o'er,
And my wife sobb'd aloud in her fulness [sic] of heart.

"Stay, stay with us! Rest! Thou art weary and worn,"
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;
But Sorrow return'd with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away!

Sources
Image: Harper's Weekly, November 7, 1863, page 709.
Poem: The Southern Flag and Song Book, H.C. Clarke, bookseller and publisher, Vicksburg, MS and Augusta, GA, 1863, pp. 24-25.
Didn't Jeb Stuart have this poem copied into his poetry notebook?
 

Fairfield

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Most times with poetry I can't master the cadent structure (pentameter?) of the piece; similar to Grant being tone deaf I suppose. But this one poem was particularly touching in its simplicity of design and cohesive theme from the first to the last. Seldom have I wanted poems to continue and reveal more than what is given; but this one made me. It also made me think of the Lincoln dream of going upon a vessel at sea to a distant shore, and the heavenly home we reach when we are no more.
Lubliner.
You might enjoy reading more of Thomas Campbell: the cadence (often heptameter) in his works is simple, though sometimes strident; it is ballad-like. Many of his poems have to do with incidents in Scottish history but you can avoid those.

A positive aside: he was one of a group who worked to establish the University of London for students rejected by Cambridge and Oxford because they didn't have enough money or because they failed some religious test.
 

Zack

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This one is kind of the opposite of the dream described in @NH Civil War Gal 's thread experienced by Charles Johnson after his wounding. Instead of dreaming about demons, rattle snakes, hell and brimstone like Johnson did, Campbell describes a vivid dream of home and family.

Perhaps the difference comes from Charles Johnson having served and been wounded and Thomas Campbell having never been in the army? I don't mean that as a critique, just an observation. It actually winds up presenting a really interesting dichotomy between civilian/poetic interpretations of war and those of the soldiers fighting it.
 
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Actually, I think it could be from just about any war.

Art and literature are international. This sentiment is global.

That was my first thought when reading the poem. Maybe the words would be different in our times, but I think the sentiment is universal. The Roman warriors probably had the same longing for home and family as the 21st century warrior has. Weapons and tactics of warfare have changed over times, but the basics, fighting for something (much rather than fighting against something) stayed the same. Which probably is why warriors often show respect towards the enemy fighters, they recognize the same motivation and the same way of thinking in each other even if they stood on different sides in a conflict.
 
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