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26. missing.

Not among the suffering wounded;
     Not among the peaceful dead;
Not among the prisoners. “missing” --
     That was all the message said.

Yet his mother reads it over,
     Until, through her painful tears, .
Fades the dear name she has called him
     For these two-and-twenty years.

Round her all is peace and plenty;
     Bright and clean the yellow floor;
While the morning-glories cluster
     All around the kitchen door.

Soberly the sleek old house cat
     Drowses in his patch of sun;
Neatly shines the oaken dresser,
     All the morning's work is done.

Through the window comes the fragrance
     Of a sunny harvest morn,
Fragment songs from distant reapers,
     And the rustling of the corn.

And the rich breath of the garden,
     Where the golden melons lie;
Where the blushing plums are turning
     All their red cheeks to the sky.

Sitting there within the sunshine--
     Leaning in her easy chair;
With soft lines upon her forehead,
     And the silver in her hair--

Blind to sunshine-dead to fragrance--
     On that royal harvest morn;
Thinking, while her heart is weeping,
     Of her noble-browed first-born;

How he left her in the spring-time,
     With his young heart full of flame,
With his clear and ringing footstep,
     With his lithe and supple frame.

How with tears his eyes were brimming
     As he kissed a last “Good-bye,”
Yet she heard him whistling gayly
     As he went across the rye.

missing! Why should he be missing?
     He would fight until he fell;
And if wounded, killed, or missing,
     Some one there would be to tell.

[19] missing. Still a hope to cheer her!
     Safe, triumphant, he may come,
With the victor army shouting,
     With the clamor of the drum!

So, through all the days of autumn--
     In the eve and in the morn--
She will hear his quickening footstep
     In the rustling of the corn;

Or, she will hush her household,
     While her heart goes leaping high,
Thinking that she hears him whistling
     In the pathway through the rye.
* * * * *

Far away through all the autumn,
     In a lonely, lonely glade,
In the dreary desolation
     That the battle-storm has made--

With the rust upon his musket--
     In the eve and in the morn--
In the rank gloom of the fern leaves
     Lies her noble-browed first-born.

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