Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/23

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17
ON THE SHORES OF TENNESSEE


Ere she loved the gallant soldier,
        Ralph Vervain of Tennessee.

Still the south wind fondly lingers
        'Mid the veteran's silver hair;
Still the bondman, close beside him,
        Stands behind the old arm-chair;
With his dark-hued hand uplifted,
        Shading eyes, he bends to see
Where the woodland, boldly jutting,
        Turns aside the Tennessee.

Thus he watches; cloud-born shadows
        Glide from tree to mountain-crest,
Softly creeping, aye and ever,
        To the river's yielding breast.
Ha! above the foliage yonder,
        Something flutters wild and free!
"Massa! Massa! Hallelujah!
        The flag's come back to Tennessee!"

"Pompey, hold me on your shoulder,
        Help me stand on foot once more,
That I may salute the colors
        As they pass my cabin-door.
Here's the paper signed that frees you,—
        Give a freeman's shout with me!
'God and Union!' be our watchword
        Evermore in Tennessee!

Then the trembling voice grew fainter,
        And the limbs refused to stand;

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