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71. the picket

by Marie.
Slow across the blue Potomac fades the dim November light,
     And the darkness, like a mantle, folds the tented field from sight;
Through the shadowed wood beside me breaks the wind with quivering moan,
     Floating, sighing,
Falling, dying,
     As I hold my watch alone.

Forward, backward, stern and fearless, till the moonbeam's dancing ray
     Breaks in many a gleaming arrow from my bay'net's point away;
So I pace the picket lonely-but, apart from mortal sight,
     Watch I'm keeping
With the sleeping
     Loved ones far away to-night.

On the morrow comes Thanksgiving, when, from households far and wide,
     Round their home the children gather — seek once more the old fireside;
Fill once more the vacant places, that they left so long ago,
     Self-relying,
Proudly trying
     All life's unknown joy and woe.

On the morrow comes Thanksgiving, not as long ago it came,
     Bright, without a shade of sorrow lingering on its good old name;
War has waved his crimson banner, and beneath its blood-stains rest
     All his glory,
Dim and gory,
     Laid on many a lifeless breast.

Wife and child, and aged mother, wake at morn to bend the knee,
     And around the hearthstone glowing supplicate their God for me; [53]
Near my vacant chair they gather, blending tears amid their prayers--
     God will hear them;
And anear them,
     Will my spirit kneel with theirs!

Nor is darkness all around us;--we can thank our God for might;
     For the strength which He has given still to struggle for the right;
For the soul so grandly beating in the nation's onward way;
     For the spirit
We inherit,
     On this new Thanksgiving day!
* * * * * * * *

Still the blue Potomac ripples like a silver thread below,
     And amid the sullen darkness rises high the campfire's glow;
So I pace the picket lonely, while, apart from mortal sight,
     Watch I'm keeping
With the sleeping
     Loved ones far at home to-night.

South Quincy, Nov. 1861.

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