Midst tangled roots that lined the wild ravine,
Where the fierce fight raged hottest through the day,
And where the dead in scattered heaps were seen,
Amid the darkling forest’s shade and sheen,
Speechless in death he lay.
The setting sun, which glanced athwart the place
In slanting lines, like amber-tinted rain,
Fell sidewise on the drummer’s upturned face,
Where Death had left his gory finger’s trace
In one bright crimson stain.
The silken fringes of his once bright eye
Lay like a shadow on his cheek so fair;
His lips were parted by a long-drawn sigh,
That with his soul had mounted to the sky
On some wild martial air.
No more his hand the fierce tattoo shall beat,
The shrill reveille, or the long roll’s call,
Or sound the charges, when, in smoke and heat
Of fiery onset, foe with foe shall meet,
And gallant men shall fall.
Yet may be in some happy home, that one,
A mother, reading from the list of dead,
Shall chance to view the name of her dead son,
And move her lips to say, “God’s will be done!”
And bow in grief her head.
But more than this what tongue shall tell his story?
Perhaps his boyish longings were for fame.
He lived, he died; and so memento mori.
Enough if on the page of War and Glory
Some hand has writ his name.
Originally posted 2008-04-03 15:49:36.