Dirge For A Soldier

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Dirge For A Soldier
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar


     DIRGE FOR A SOLDIER

In the east the morning comes,
Hear the rollin' of the drums
     On the hill.
But the heart that beat as they beat
In the battle's raging day heat
     Lieth still.
Unto him the night has come,
Though they roll the morning drum.

What is in the bugle's blast?
It is: "Victory at last!
     Now for rest."
But, my comrades, come behold him,
Where our colors now enfold him,
     And his breast
Bares no more to meet the blade,
But lies covered in the shade.

What a stir there is to-day!
They are laying him away
     Where he fell.
There the flag goes draped before him;
Now they pile the grave sod o'er him
     With a knell.
And he answers to his name
In the higher ranks of fame.

There's a woman left to mourn
For the child that she has borne
     In travail.
But her heart beats high and higher,
With the patriot mother's fire,
     At the tale.
She has borne and lost a son,
But her work and his are done.

Fling the flag out, let it wave;
They 're returning from the grave—
     "Double quick!"
And the cymbals now are crashing,
Bright his comrades' eyes are flashing
     From the thick
Battle-ranks which knew him brave,
No tears for a hero's grave.

In the east the morning comes,
Hear the rattle of the drums
     Far away.
Now no time for grief's pursuing,
Other work is for the doing,
     Here to-day.
He is sleeping, let him rest
With the flag across his breast.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.