All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/Life's Soldiers

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LIFE'S SOLDIERS.


WITHOUT a flag of strange device
In glowing colors bright and gay,
No nodding plume above the brow,
 Nor title blazoned U. S. A.,

They walk beside us everywhere—
 In quiet glen, in crowded street,
Wherever human hearts are borne
 About by busy human feet.

Still with their armor buckled on,
 Still fighting foes without, within,
Life s warriors walk beside us here
 To battle wrong, and war with sin.
No bugle-blast their deeds proclaims,
 No cannon booms for hero true,
Where self, and wrong, before him slain
 Proclaim the deadly conflict through.

Pale, quiet faces pass us by,
 So strangely calm we wonder still
Whence came the Lethean draught to them,
 What drops the waveless chalice fill.
The scars they bear are not from sword,
 Nor rifle-ball, nor bayonet thrust;
They are but lines on cheek and brow,
 Engraved by broken hope and trust.

In household duties, day by day,
 Where cares and sorrows mark the round,
A feeble one may vict'ry win,
 May grasp and wear the starry crown;
God strengthens still the weakest hand
 That grasps his weapon in His name—
Self-love subdued, hot words held back,
 A victor's wreath may win and claim.


Where toilworn hands fling back a bribe,
 Where honesty makes good its trust,
Where promises are kept through pain,
 Where still, tho tempted, men are just,—
There are life s soldiers brave and true;
 And when this warfare shall be o'er,
As heroes brave shall those appear
 Whose courage was undreamed before.