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77. the true heroine.

What was she like? I cannot tell;
     I only know God loved her well;
Two noble sons her gray hairs blest--
     And he, their sire, was now at rest.

And why her children loved her so,
     And called her blessed, all shall know;
She never had a selfish thought,
     Nor valued what her hand had wrought.

She could be just in spite of love;
     And cherished hates she dwelt above;
In sick-rooms, they that had her care,
     Said she was wondrous gentle there.

It was a fearful trust, she knew,
     To guide her young immortals through;
But Love and Truth explained the way,
     And Piety made perfect day.

She taught them to be pure and true,
     And brave, and strong, and courteous, too;
She made them reverence silver hairs,
     And feel the poor man's biting cares.

She won them ever to her side;
     Home was their treasure and their pride;
Its food, drink, shelter, pleased them best,
     And there they found the sweetest rest.

And often, as the shadows fell,
     And twilight had attuned them well, [61]
She sang of many a noble deed,
     And marked with joy their eager heed.

And most she marked their kindling eyes,
     When telling of the victories
That made the Stars and Stripes a name,
     Their country rich in honest fame.

It was a noble land, she said--
     Its poorest children lacked not bread;
It was so broad, so rich, so free,
     They sang its praise beyond the sea.

And thousands sought its kindly shore,
     And none were poor and friendless more;
All blessed the name of Washington,
     And loved the Union, every one.

She made them feel that they were part
     Of the great nation's living heart--
So they grew up, true patriot boys,
     And knew not all their mother's joys.

Sad was the hour when murmurs loud
     From a great black advancing cloud
Made millions feel the coming breath
     Of maddened whirlwinds, full of death!

She prayed the skies might soon be bright,
     And made her sons prepare for fight;
Brave youths!--their zeal proved clearly then,
     In such an hour youths can be men!

By day she went from door to door--
     Men caught her soul, unfelt before;
By night she prayed, and planned, and dreamed,
     Till morn's red light war's lightning seemed.

The cry went forth; forth stepped her sons,
     In martial blaze of gleaming guns;
Still striding on to perils dire,
     They turned to catch her glance of fire.

No fears, no fond regrets she knew,
     But proudly watched them fade from view;
“Lord, keep them so!” she said, and turned
     To where her lonely hearth-fire burned.

--Atlantic Monthly.

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