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The students leave their college rooms
Full deep in Greece and Rome,
To make a rival glory
For a better cause near home;
The lawyer quits his suit and writs,
The laborer his hire,
And in the thrilling rivalry
The rich and poor aspire!
And party lines are lost amid the patriot commotion,
As wanton streams grow strong and pure within the heart of ocean.
The city marts are echoless;
The city parks are thronged;
In country stores there roars and pours
The means to right the wronged;
The town-halls ring with mustering,--
From holy pulpits, too,
Good priests and preachers volunteer
To show what men should do--
To show that they who preach the truth and God above revere,
Can die to save for man the blessings God has sent down here.
And gentle fingers everywhere
The busy needles ply,
To deck the manly sinews
That go out to do or die;
And maids and mothers, sisters dear,
And dearer wives, outvie
Each other in the duty sad,
That makes all say “Good-by” --
The while in every throbbing heart that's pressed in farewell kiss,
Arises pangs of hate on those who brought them all to this.
The mustering men are entering
For near and distant tramps;
The clustering crowds are centering
In barrack-rooms and camps;
There is riveting and pivoting,
And furbishing of arms;
And the willing marching, drilling,
With their quick exciting charms,
Half dispel the subtle sorrow that the women needs must feel,
When e'en for Right their dear ones fight the Wrong with steel to steel.
With hammerings and clamorings
The armories are loud;
Toilsome clangor, joy and anger,
Like a cloud enwrap each crowd;
Belting, buckling, cursing, chuckling,
Sorting out their “traps” in throngs;
Some are packing, some knapsacking,
Singing snatches of old songs;
Fifers finger, lovers linger to adjust a badge or feather,
And groups of drummers vainly strive to reveille together.
And into many a haversack
The prayer-book's mutely borne--
Its well-thumbed leaves in faithfulness
By wives and mothers worn;
And round full many a pillared neck,
O'er many a stalwart breast,
The sweetheart wife's — the maiden love's
Dear effigy's caressed.
God knows by what far camp-fire may these tokens courage give,
To fearless die for Truth and Home, if not for them to live.
And men who've passed their threescore years,
Press on the ranks in flocks;
Their eyes, like fire from Hecla's brow,
Burn through their snowy locks;
And maim'd ones, with stout hearts, persist
To mount the belt and gun,
And crave with tears — while forced away--
To march to Washington.
“Why should we not? We love that Flag! Great
God!” --they choking cry--
“We're strong enough! We're not too old for our country's cause to die!”
And in the mighty mustering,
No petty hate intrudes,
No rival discords mar the strength
Of rising multitudes;
The jealousies of faith and clime
Which fester in success,
Give place to sturdy friendships
Based on mutual distress;
For every thinking citizen who draws the sword, knows well
The battle's for Humanity — for Freedom's citadel!
Oh, Heaven! how the trodden hearts
In Europe's tyrant world
Leapt up with new-born energy
When that Flag was unfurled!
How those who suffered, fought, and died,
In fields, or dungeon-chained,
Prayed that the Flag of Washington
Might float while earth remained!
And weary eyes in foreign skies still flash with fire anew,
When some good blast by peak and mast unfolds that
Flag to view.
And they who, guided by its stars,
Sought here the hopes they gave,
Are all aglow with pilgrim fire
Their happy shrines to save.
Here — Scots and Poles, Italians, Gauls,
With native emblems trickt;
There — Teuton corps, who fought before
Fur Freiheit und fur Licht ;1
While round the Flag the Irish like a human rampart go!
They found Cead mille failthe2 here — they'll give it to the foe.
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