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Drum.

by J. R. G. Pitkin.
I.

Drum!
Drum! drum! drum! drum!
Drum!
On they come.
While throbs a stern, responsive beat
Of martial lines of measured feet,
Down, down the stony street.
And thousands wait
At door and gate,
To bless each form
Who dares the storm,
And every tie
Can waive, to die
When Treason's hand
Assails his land.
And thus to greet
Brave souls, they meet,
While horrid fears
Rouse abject tears,
And all
Appall! [78]
God's will be done--
God bless them all!
For such have won
Half, ere their call!

There woman stands
With clonic hands I
Such woes infest
Her tender breast;
Her eyelids drip,
While the dumb lip
Essays in vain
To crush its pain
‘Neath smiling mask--
Self-cruel task!

In vain, in vain--
Hearts cannot feign
When their full swell
Bursts with farewell!
That buried face,
That shrieking phrase,
That dismal chill
As horrors thrill--
All, all confess
A keen distress!
And while thus wildly quakes her woe
Drum, drum, drum!
On they go!
Drum!
And loudly throbs that solemn beat
Of martial lines of measured feet
Down, down the stony street;
And to every ear and every heart
There throbs a truth, with subtle art,
A truth, the patriot's sacred trust,
That nerves his arm till brought to dust,
“Pledge cordial hand, true heart and all,
United stand; divided fall!”
Drum!

II.

Drum I
Drum! drum! drum! drum!
Drum!
On they come.
Here where the foe in grim array
Await the van to hew and slay,
Theirs the gory way!
And the horrid yell
And fearful hell
Of shot and shell
Begin the fight
Of Wrong and Right!
Hot flame and fire,
Wild rancor, ire,
Convulsive breath
And swifter death!
Austere endeavor
Or now or never
With fiendish will
To mar and kill!
God's image, cheap
In frequent heap,
Is rent and torn
And wildly borne
Piece, piece from piece,
With hell's caprice!

Oh! how shells shiver!
And torn trunks quiver!
From lip and breast
With frightful zest
The curse and gore
Their tides outpour;
The hands now clutch
Breasts, that too much
Of anguish bear--
As 'twere to tear
Their pulses out,
While torrents spout
Anew — the tone
'Twixt sigh and moan--
The dismal fear
That death is near--
The mental strife
'Gainst waning life--
The sudden bound
Up from the ground--
The choking gasp,
The loosened grasp--
And the cold eye
Glares 'gainst the sky!

Drum! drum! drum!
On they go!
Blow on, blow I
Drum!
Yet livelier beat for the devils yield!
God! in whom we win the field!
Be with us still our arms to wield!
On they fly,
Fast they die!
On, on, on,
They're gone!
And the throbbing drum
Beats far on
Like the peaceful hum
Of a dim cathedral's holy psalm,
In murmur pure, august and calm,
Full of Earth's meek, prayerful truth,
Rich of Heaven's benignant ruth 1
“Pledge cordial hand, true heart and all,
United stand; divided fall!”
Drum!

III.

Drum!
Drum! drum! drum I drum!
Drum!
Back they come!
And slowly throbs the solemn beat
Of martial lines of weary feet
Down, down the stony street!
Slow as a mighty soul it throbs,
Too sore and deep for tears or sobs,
And far too spent by lethal woes
For aught but slow and pond'rous throes I
Drum!
On they come!
And at each door
Fast throng a score
Of anxious souls,
Whom Hope condoles--
Who forward cast
Eyes half aghast,
And though tear-wet
Still rainbow-set.

O sore suspense!
A choking sense
Of loss, delight,
Of stars — but night!

[79] Drum I drum!
Ha! here they come;
And now how peer
All, fraught with fear,
With eager signs,
Along the lines!
And crave to trace
Therein the face
Of him they kissed,
And through the mist
Of tears, saw fade
In sombre shade!

Drum! drum!
God! what a shriek!
A poignant beak
Of vulture hath
In mystic wrath
Pierced one poor heart!
Keen with the smart,
She blankly stares
With fickle glares,
Her palm close-pressed
Against her breast,
And dumbly reels!
She knows or feels
Not now the blow
Of death and woe!
Nay, do not wake
Her now, the ache
Of sore regret
She feels not yet.
The awful shock
Hath stunned to rock!
God stay the fang!
God help the pang!

God bless them all!
Who dared to fall
Face to the foe
When blow on blow
In death crushed low,
Yet with a front
No foe could daunt,
Still looked with proud
White face to God!
Laud high their deed--
Crowns are their meed!

Ah! few remain
To tell the pain,
The frenzied strife
And wasted life
Of that red day!
In sad array
They pass along
With silent tongue,
And brows sublime
With scars and grime!

And slowly throbs that solemn beat
Of martial lines of weary feet
Down, down the stony street!
And loud reverberant from the ground,
The city's walls exultant sound
The lordly metre, deep and strong,
That proudly wakes the awe-struck throng;
Till on their beats from heart to heart
The truth sublime with subtle art--
“Pledge cordial hands, true hearts and all,
United stand; divided fall!”
Drum!

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