So he is dead. A strange, sad story clings
About the memory of this mindless man;
A tale that strips war's tinsel off, and brings
Its horrors out, as only history can.

Within a peaceful town he dwelt in youth,
His sister's hero and his mother's pride-
The soul of honor, the abode of truth,
Beloved and reverenced on every side.

He had a sweetheart, lovely as the day,
A gentle maid, who knew not half his worth,
Who loved the sunshine, and who shrank away
From sorrow, and forever followed mirth.

They were but young, and hope's mirage upreared
In their warm hearts its rosy palaces;
They deemed them real, and longing, only feared
Life was too short for all the promised bliss.

And then came war, blood-spattered, cruel as hell,
And clamored with its iron voice for life-
Mother and sister and the wedding-bell.
The hero left, and hastened to the strife.

In vain he struck for liberty, and fell
A captive, in his earliest affray;
Then, threatening death, fierce Haynau bade him tell
Where and how strong the patriot forces lay.

“I will not tell,” he cried, with eyes aflame,
“Do what thou wilt with me, I will not bring
Doom to my land, and soil my honored name:
From these sealed lips thou shalt no secret wring.”

His captor only laughed. “He croweth well,
Go, bring his mother and his sister here,
And they shall die, if he refuse to tell!”
The hero answered not, but paled with fear.

The brutal soldiers to the brutish court
Dragged the weak women, and they stood o'er-awed,
Each to the other clinging for support,
And praying in her misery to God.

The fell decree the shrinking creatures heard,
And long in vain essayed to make reply,
For their weak speech could find no fitting word
To bear the burden of their agony.

Tears came at last. The brutal Haynau smiled,
But all too soon. Weeping, the mother said:
“Be not thy country's, traitor, oh! my child!
Too old am I the loss of life to dread.”

Then spake the sister: “Brother mine, be brave!
Life hath no charms, if with dishonor bought;
Think not of us, our bleeding country save-
Life is so short at best, death matters naught.”

The hero made no answer, but he drove
His nails into his palms, and choked for breath;
His captor bade the soldiery remove
The noble women-and they went to death.

“He hath a sweetheart,” Haynau said again:
“Go, bring her hither;” and they brought her there,
Weeping with fear, and wailing low with pain,
Amid the golden ringlets of her hair.

Then from the earth she sprang, frenzied with fear,
Into her lover's arms, and kissed his cheek,
And strok'd his hair, and called him “love” and “dear,”
And prayed him for her sake to yield and speak.

He thrust her from him, clasped her yielding form
In his lithe arms again, and then once more
Repulsed her gently, and the deadly storm
That raged within him smote him to the floor.

Groping, he rose and spoke. None knew his voice:
It sounded as though coming from a tomb.
“Oh! darling, it must be-I have no choice-
Thou would'st not have me seal my country's doom?”

Haynau made sign. “Away with her,” he cried.
They seized their prey, but life to her was sweet,
And, bounding from the soldiers at her side,
Screaming she crouched, and clasped her lover's feet.

“Oh! for the love you bear me, save my life!
Tell what he asks, and we will fly this place
Into some unknown land, where all this strife
Shall be forgotten in love's sweet embrace.”

He made no answer save by bending low,
And kissing her damp brow. They raised their prize,
And bore her to the door, as pale as snow,
With all her soul outwelling from her eyes.

But here she turned, calm in her death despair,
And in a voice that trembled with its hate,
“My dying curse be on you everywhere,
False love,” she cried, “who send me to my fate.”

There was a silence, then a fusilade
Of musketry, a woman's scream and moan,
Then silence. That was all, and in the shade
Of night the hero laughed. Reason had flown.