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17. A mother's story.

Amid the throng that gathers where
     The mail dispenses joy and care,
I saw a woeful woman stand,
     A letter falling from her hand:

[15] She spoke no word, she breathed no sigh;
     Her bloodless cheek, her sad, fixed eye,
And pallid, quivering lips apart,
     Showed hopeless grief had seized her heart.
I spoke — a word of kindness cheers
     The heavy heart, and heaven-sent tears
Refresh the eye dry sorrow sears.

“Ah! sir, my boy! my brave, bright boy!”
     In broken voice, she said;
“My only son! my only joy!
     My brave, bright boy is dead!”

“Sorrow is sacred!” and the eye
     That looks on grief is seldom dry:
I listened to her piteous moan,
     Then followed to her dwelling lone,
Where sheltered from the biting cold,
     She thus her simple story told:

“My gran'father, sir, for freedom died,
     On Eutaw's bloody plain;
My father left his youthful bride,
     And fell at Lundy's Lane.

“And when my boy, with burning brow,
     Told of the nation's shame--
How Sumter fell!--oh! how, sir, how
     Could blood like mine be tame!

“I blessed him; and I bade him go--
     Bade him our honor keep:
He proudly went to meet the foe;
     Left me to pray and weep.

“In camp — on march — of picket round--
     He did his equal share;
And still the call to battle found
     My brave boy always there.

“And when the fleet was all prepared
     To sail upon the main,
He all his comrades' feelings shared--
     But fever scorched his brain!

“He told the general: ‘He would ne'er
     From toil or danger shrink,
But, though the waves he did not fear,
     It chilled his heart to think

“‘How drear the flowerless grave must be,
     Beneath the ocean's foam,
And that he knew 't would comfort me
     To have him die at home.’

“They tell me that the general's eye
     With tears did overflow:
God bless the brave man!--with a sigh,
     He gave him leave to go.

“Quick down the vessel's side came he;
     Joy seemed to kill his pain;
‘Comrades!‘ he cried, ‘I yet shall see
     My mother's face again!’

“The boat came bounding o'er the tide;
     He sprang upon the strand:
God's will be done!--my bright boy died,
     His furlough in his hand!”

Ye, who this artless story read,
     If Pity in your bosoms plead,
And “Heaven has blessed your store” --
     If broken-hearted woman, meek,
Can win your sympathy — go, seek
     That childless widow's door!

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Lundy's Lane (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Eutaw (Alabama, United States) (1)
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