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49. army poetry.

The war, if it results in wounds and death, also produces much exquisite poetry. The solitude of the camps, the thought of absence from friends and home, the expectation of battle, and all the natural risks incident to the life of a soldier, are well calculated to inspire serious and sentimental reflection. The apprehension of parents and friends that military experience leads to dissipation and recklessness, is not, generally, well founded. Many who, at home, are not in the habit of thinking of religion, or of their own future state, meditate profoundly upon these things amid the loneliness of camp life. The following beautiful lines were written by a private in Company G of Stuart's Engineer regiment, at Camp Lesley, near Washington. In explanation of one of the verses of the poem, it is right to state that white rags are frequently scattered along the sentinel's path, of a dark night, to mark his beat.--Philadelphia Press.


The Countersign.

Alas! the weary hours pass slow,
     The night is very dark and still,
And in the marshes far below,
     I hear the bearded whip-poor-will;
I scarce can see a yard ahead,
     My ears are strained to catch each sound--
I hear the leaves about me shed,
     And the springs bubbling through the ground.

Along the beaten path I pace,
     Where white rags mark my sentry's track,
In formless shrubs I seem to trace
     The foeman's form, with bending back;
I think I see him crouching low--
     I stop and list — I stoop and peer,
Until the neighboring hillocks grow
     To groups of soldiers far and near.

[33] With ready piece, I wait and watch,
     Until my eyes, familiar grown,
Detect each harmless, earthen notch,
     And turn guerillas into stone;
And then, amid the lonely gloom,
     Beneath the tall old chestnut trees,
My silent marches I resume,
     And think of other times than these.

“Halt! Who goes there?” my challenge cry,
     It rings along the watchful line;
“Relief!” I hear a voice reply--
     “Advance, and give the countersign!”
With bayonet at the charge I wait--
     The corporal gives the mystic word;
With arms aport I charge my mate,
     Then onward pass, and all is well.

But in the tent, that night, awake,
     I asked, if in the fray I fall,
Can I the mystic answer make
     When the angelic sentries call?
And pray that Heaven may so ordain,
     Where'er I go, what fate be mine,
Whether in pleasure or in pain,
     I still may have the Countersign.

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