The gray morn | As he mutters a prayer for the chi'
For their mother,
may Heav

Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous smoke

Before the icy wind slow rolls away,
And the bright beams of frosty morning dance
Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood
Even to the forest's depth, and scattered arms,
And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments
Death's self could change not, mark the dreadful

Of the outsallying victors; far behind,
Black ashes note where their proud city stood.
Within yon forest is a gloomy glen,
Each tree which guards its darkness from the day
Waves o'er a warrior's tomb.

War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight,
The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade,
And to those royal murderers whose mean




"ALL quiet along the Potomac," they say,
"Except now and then a stray picket
Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro,

Are bought by crimes of treachery and gore,
The bread they eat, the staff on which they lean. All quiet along the Potomac to-night,

Guards, garbed in blood-red livery, surround
Their palaces, participate the crimes

No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,
The picket 's off duty forever.

That force defends, and from a nation's rage
Secure the crown, which all the curses reach
That famine, frenzy, woe, and penury breathe.
These are the hired bravos who defend
The tyrant's throne.

By a rifleman hid in the thicket.

"T is nothing: a private or two, now and then,
Will not count in the news of the battle;
Not an officer lost, only one of the men,
Moaning out, all alone, the death rattle."

All quiet along the Potomac to-night,

Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming; Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,

Or the light of the watch-fires, are gleaming. A tremulous sigh, as the gentle night-wind

Through the forest leaves softly is creeping; While stars up above, with their glittering eyes,

Keep guard, for the army is sleeping.

There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And he thinks of the two in the low trundle-bed,

The moon seems to shine just as brightly as th
That night when the love yet unspoken
Leaped up to his lips, when low, murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken;
Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling,
And gathers his gun closer up to its place,
As if to keep down the heart-swelling.

He passes the fountain, the blasted pine-tree, -
The footstep is lagging and weary;

Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary.
Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves?

Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looked like a rifle: "Ha! Mary, good by!"
And the life-blood is ebbing and plashing.



"RIFLEMAN, shoot me a fancy shot

Straight at the heart of yon prowling vidette, Ring me a ball in the glittering spot

That shines on his breast like an amulet!"

"Ah, captain! here goes for a fine-drawn bead,
There's music around when my barrel 's in
Crack! went the rifle, the messenger sped,

And dead from his horse fell the ringing dragoon.

"Now, rifleman, steal through the bushes, and snatch

From your victim some trinket to handsel first blood;

A button, a loop, or that luminous patch
That gleams in the moon like a diamond stud!"

"O captain! I staggered, and sunk on my track,

When I gazed on the face of that fallen vidette,
For he looked so like you, as he lay on his back,
That my heart rose upon me,
and masters me yet.

"But I snatched off the trinket, this locket of gold;

Far away in the cot on the mountain.

An inch from the centre my lead broke its way,

His musket falls slack; his face, dark and grim, Scarce grazing the picture, so fair to behold,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
Of a beautiful lady in bridal array."

"Ha! rifleman, fling me the locket!-'t is she,
My brother's young bride, and the fallen

Was her husband Hush! soldier, 't was
Heaven's decree,

moon !

We must bury him there, by the light of the The soldiers who buried the dead away Disturbed not the clasp of that last embrace, But laid them to sleep till the judgment-day, Heart folded to heart, and face to face.


"But, hark! the far bugles their warnings unite;
War is a virtue, - weakness a sin;
There's a lurking and loping around us to-night;
Load again, rifleman, keep your hand in !”



WHAT, was it a dream? am I all alone

In the dreary night and the drizzling rain?
Hist!ah, it was only the river's moan;
They have left me behind with the mangled

Yes, now I remember it all too well!

We met, from the battling ranks apart; Together our weapons flashed and fell,

And mine was sheathed in his quivering heart.

In the cypress gloom, where the deed was done,
It was all too dark to see his face;

But I heard his death-groans, one by one,
And he holds me still in a cold embrace.

He spoke but once, and I could not hear

The words he said, for the cannon's roar; But my heart grew cold with a deadly fear, O God! I had heard that voice before !

Had heard it before at our mother's knee,

When we lisped the words of our evening prayer! My brother would I had died for thee,

This burden is more than my soul can bear!

I pressed my lips to his death-cold cheek,

And begged him to show me, by word or sign, That he knew and forgave me : he could not speak, But he nestled his poor cold face to mine.

The blood flowed fast from my wounded side,
And then for a while I forgot my pain,
And over the lakelet we seemed to glide
In our little boat, two boys again.

And then, in my dream, we stood alone

On a forest path where the shadows fell; And I heard again the tremulous tone,

And the tender words of his last farewell.

But that parting was years, long years ago,
He wandered away to a foreign land;
And our dear old mother will never know
That he died to-night by his brother's hand.



ON woodlands ruddy with autumn
The amber sunshine lies;

I look on the beauty round me,
And tears come into my eyes.

For the wind that sweeps the meadows
Blows out of the far Southwest,
Where our gallant men are fighting,
And the gallant dead are at rest.

The golden-rod is leaning,

And the purple aster waves
In a breeze from the land of battles,
A breath from the land of graves.

Full fast the leaves are dropping

Before that wandering breath;
As fast, on the field of battle,
Our brethren fall in death.

Beautiful over my pathway

The forest spoils are shed;
They are spotting the grassy hillocks
With purple and gold and red.

Beautiful is the death-sleep

Of those who bravely fight
In their country's holy quarrel,
And perish for the Right.

But who shall comfort the living,

The light of whose homes is gone: The bride that, early widowed,

Lives broken-hearted on;

The matron whose sons are lying
In graves on a distant shore;
The maiden, whose promised husband
Comes back from the war no more?

I look on the peaceful dwellings
Whose windows glimmer in sight,
With croft and garden and orchard
That bask in the mellow light;

And I know that, when our couriers
With news of victory come,
They will bring a bitter message
Of hopeless grief to some.

Again I turn to the woodlands,
And I shudder as I see
The mock-grape's blood-red banner
Hung out on the cedar-tree;


And I think of days of slaughter,

And the night-sky red with flames, On the Chattahoochee's meadows,

And the wasted banks of the James.

O for the fresh spring-season,

When the groves are in their prime, And far away in the future

Is the frosty autumn-time!

O for that better season,

When the pride of the foe shall yield, And the hosts of God and Freedom March back from the well-won field;

And the matron shall clasp her first-born
With tears of joy and pride;
And the scarred and war-worn lover

Shall claim his promised bride!

The leaves are swept from the branches;
But the living buds are there,
With folded flower and foliage,
To sprout in a kinder air.


October, 1864.


A SOLDIER of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,
There was lack of woman's nursing, there was
dearth of woman's tears;
But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-
blood ebbed away,

[ocr errors]

at Bingen on the


Ampelopis, mock-grape. I have here literally translated the botanical name of the Virginia creeper, an appellation too cumbrous for verse.

my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around,

[blocks in formation]

"Tell my mother that her other son shall comfort her old age;

For I was still a truant bird, that thought his home a cage.

For my father was a soldier, and even as a child

My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of strug-
gles fierce and wild;

And when he died, and left us to divide his
scanty hoard,
but kept

I let them take whate'er they would,
my father's sword;

And with boyish love I hung it where the bright
light used to shine,

On the cottage wall at Bingen, - calm Bingen on the Rhine.


To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame, And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he And to hang the old sword in its place (my father's sword and mine)

might say.

The dying soldier faltered, and he took that com- For the honor of old Bingen, — dear Bingen on
rade's hand,
the Rhine.

And he said, "I nevermore shall see my own,
my native land;
Take a message, and a token, to some distant
friends of mine,

For I was born at Bingen,

[blocks in formation]

not a sister; in the happy

"There's another,
days gone by

You'd have known her by the merriment that
sparkled in her eye;

Too innocent for coquetry,


O friend! I fear the lightest heart makes some

times heaviest mourning!

- too fond for idle

Tell her the last night of my life (for, ere the moon | And upon platforms where the oak-trees grew, be risen, Trumpets he set, huge beyond dreams of wonder,

My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of prison),

I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow
sunlight shine

Craftily purposed, when his arms withdrew,
To make him thought still housed there, like
the thunder:

the Rhine.

On the vine-clad hills of Bingen, -fair Bingen on And it so fell; for when the winds blew right, They woke their trumpets to their calls of might. Unseen, but heard, their calls the trumpets blew, Ringing the granite rocks, their only bearers, Till the long fear into religion grew,

And nevermore those heights had human darers. Dreadful Doolkarnein was an earthly god;

His walls but shadowed forth his mightier frowning;

Armies of giants at his bidding trod

From realm to realm, king after king discrowning.

When thunder spoke, or when the earthquake

[ocr errors]

"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along, I heard,
or seemed to hear,
The German songs we used to sing, in chorus
sweet and clear;

And down the pleasant river, and up the slant-
ing hill,

The echoing chorus sounded, through the evening calm and still;

And her glad blue eyes were on me, as we passed, with friendly talk,

Down many a path beloved of yore, and well

remembered walk!

And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine,

But we'll meet no more at Bingen, -loved Bingen on the Rhine."

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

The soldier of the Legion in a foreign land is dead! And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down

On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody

corses strewn ;,

Yes, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine,

As it shone on distant Bingen, fair Bingen on

the Rhine.


WITH awful walls, far glooming, that possessed The passes 'twixt the snow-fed Caspian fountains,


Then, muttering in accord, his host was heard.

Is he then dead? Can great Doolkarnein die?

Or can his endless hosts elsewhere be needed?
Were the great breaths that blew his minstrelsy
Phantoms, that faded as himself receded?
Or is he angered? Surely he still comes ;


This silence ushers the dread visitation; Sudden will burst the torrent of his drums, And then will follow bloody desolation.

[In Eastern history are two Iskanders, or Alexanders, who are sometimes confounded, and both of whom are called Doolkar

nein, or the Two-Horned, in allusion to their subjugation of East So did fear dream; though now, with not a sound and West, horns being an Oriental symbol of power.

To scare good hope, summer had twice crept round.

One of these heroes is Alexander of Macedon; the other a con. queror of more ancient times, who built the marvellous series of

ramparts on Mount Caucasus, known in fable as the wall of Gog and Magog, that is to say, of the people of the North. It reached from the Euxine Sea to the Caspian, where its flanks originated the subsequent appellation of the Caspian Gates.]

Doolkarnein, the dread lord of East and West, Shut up the northern nations in their mountains;

[blocks in formation]

Then gathered in a band, with lifted eyes,

The neighbors, and those silent heights as-

Giant, nor aught blasting their bold emprise,
They met, though twice they halted, breath
Once, at a coming like a god's in rage
With thunderous leaps, -

but 't was the piled

snow, falling;

And once, when in the woods an oak, for age, Fell dead, the silence with its groan appalling. At last they came where still, in dread array, As though they still might speak, the trumpets lay.

Unhurt they lay, like caverns above ground,

The rifted rocks, for hands, about them clinging, Their tubes as straight, their mighty mouths as round

And firm as when the rocks were first set ringing.

Fresh from their unimaginable mould

They might have seemed, save that the storms had stained them

With a rich rust, that now, with gloomy gold In the bright sunshine, beauteously engrained them. Breathless the gazers looked, nigh faint for awe, Then leaped, then laughed. What was it now they saw?

Myriads of birds. Myriads of birds, that filled The trumpets all with nests and nestling voices ! The great, huge, stormy music had been stilled By the soft needs that nursed those small, sweet noises !

O thou Doolkarnein, where is now thy wall? Where now thy voice divine and all thy forces? Great was thy cunning, but its wit was small Compared with nature's least and gentlest


Fears and false creeds may fright the realms awhile;

But heaven and earth abide their time, and smile.



WHERE is the grave of Sir Arthur O'Kellyn?
Where may the grave of that good man be?-
By the side of a spring, on the breast of Helvellyn,
Under the twigs of a young birch-tree!
The oak that in summer was sweet to hear,
And rustled its leaves in the fall of the year,
And whistled and roared in the winter alone,
Is gone, and the birch in its stead is grown.
The knight's bones are dust,
And his good sword rust;-
His soul is with the saints, I trust.


DIRGE FOR A SOLDIER. CLOSE his eyes; his work is done! What to him is friend or foeman, Rise of moon or set of sun,

Hand of man or kiss of woman?


[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »