On the Moorish coast, chain-tethered,
Thus a captive soldier spoke:
"I behold you, shining feathered
Hosts that fly from Winter's yoke.
You whom Hope, O! happy swallows
Leaving France on truant wing,
On your sunward journey follows,
What home-tidings do you bring?
"Three long years have passed since dumbly
I implored some token gleaned
From the valley where I humbly
Dreamt of bliss the future screened.
Where the limpid stream runs looping
Round the lilac-scented garth,
Have you glimpsed my cot, and swooping
Gathered tidings of my hearth?
"One of you perchance did quicken
Under thatch where I was born;
Of the mother sorely stricken
You have wept the love forlorn.
Prone in death she hears my coming,
Grieving for the laggard beat
Of my footsteps slowly homing:
Do you bear love-tiding sweet?
"Is my sister's wedding over?
Have you seen the merry throng
Toasting bride and toasting lover
To the sound of happy song?
And the brave lads once went leaping
Into battle, do they see
Home again--or are they sleeping?
Have you news of friends for me?
"Over their slain bodies striding
The despoiling stranger may
In my home as master biding
Seek my sister to betray.
There no more a mother praying,
Here the heavy chains that cling--
Swallows from my homeland straying,
Sorrow's burden do you bring?"