TO GENERAL LOYD. THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE OLD ELMS AT THE WEST END OF WOOLWICH BARRACKS (1800–1). [*]
WE soldiers of the western hill,
Turn’d up with nature’s cheerful green;
Since our young stems came here to drill,
What revolutions have we seen!
We’ve witness’d many a gallant launch;5
We’ve bow’d to many a gay review;
And still, we’re like your Honour—stanch;
And humbly plead our cause with you.
Oh! shall we be condemn’d to die,
Whilst your vast barracks raise our wonder;10
Whose deep foundations come so nigh,
They cut our very roots asunder?
We’ve stood through many a stormy night,
Ay! long before your men were born,
Who braved the thunder of the fight, 15
And toils and terrors laugh’d to scorn.
How grateful is the summer shade,
How bleak this hill would look without us;
Here let the vows of love be made,
And blooming maids still flock about us.20
Let us remain the spot to show,
(Though honour bids a nation arm),
Where grazing kine were wont to low,
And once was found a peaceful farm.