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24. my soldier.

Upon a hard-won battle-field,
     Whose recent blood-stains shock the skies,
By hasty burial half-concealed,
     With death in his dear eyes,
My soldier lies.

O thought more sharp than bayonet-thrust!
     Of blood-drops on his silken hair,
Of his white forehead in the dust,
     Of his last gasping prayer,
And I not there!

I know, while his warm life escaped,
     And his blue eyes closed shudderingly,
His heart's last fluttering pulses shaped
     One yearning wish for me--
O agony!

For I, in cruel ignorance,
     While yet his last sigh pained the air,
I trifled — sung or laughed, perchance,
     With roses in my hair,
All unaware.

In dreams I see him fall again,
     Where cannons roar and guidons wave;
Then wake to hear the lonesome rain,
     Weeping the fallen brave,
Drip on his grave.

Since treason sought our country's heart,
     Ah! fairer body never yet
From nobler soul was torn apart;
     No braver blood has wet
Her coronet.

No spirit more intense and fine
     Strives where her starry banners wave,
No gentler face, beloved, than thine
     Sleeps in a soldier's grave--
No heart more brave.

And though his mound I may not trace,
     Or weep above his buried head,
The grateful spring shall find the place,
     And with her blossoms spread
His quiet bed.

The soul I loved is still alive,
     The name I loved is Freedom's boast;
I clasp these helpful truths, and strive
     To feel, though great the cost,
Nothing is lost:

[21] Since all of him that erst was dear
     Is safe; his life was nobly spent
And it is well. Oh! draw Thou near,
     Light my bewilderment,
Make me content!

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