Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/172

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A child of sunny summers, beside his mother's knee,
A youth of earnest purpose, his half-shut eyelids see;
A grave and silent soldier, the pride of the parade,
He rides, as if a Cossack, 'gainst Montezuma's blade;

A sturdy, sunburnt farmer, within his rustic home,
Beside his blazing hearthstone, who never cares to roam
Except where boon companions, with pipes and foaming beer,
Tell tales of wild adventure, sing songs of hearty cheer.

But hark ! the bugle calleth! Its clarions wake the farms,—
"Your country is in danger! To arms, my sons, to arms!"
The streets are black with soldiers; their bristling bayonets gleam,
A hundred thousand marching, as flows a mountain stream.

The dreamer in his vision descries a battle-field;
He hears the cannon echo, he sees battalions yield;
He sees the blue-coats rally, he sees the gray-coats fall,
The ghastly dead and dying, the "stars and bars" their pall

Along the queen of rivers, against, her trembling shore,
Volcanic flames are belching, and volleying thunders roar:
Hot shot and shell are crashing, while lurid smoke and flame
Are from a fortress leaping,—a fortress known to fame.

Again the picture changes! The Capitol is seen,
Where rolls the broad Potomac through the banks of ever green:
Not now fraternal kindness disports in festive garb,
But brother, armed 'gainst brother, spurs on his fiery barb.

Brigades and solid squadrons are marching out of camp;
He hears their stirring music, he hears their steady tramp:
The Wilderness the arena, a nation's life the prize,
Their watchword, "On to Richmond!" He hears their battle-cries.

For days, for weeks together, repulsed, defeated, slain,
As sands restrain old ocean, their ranks roll back again,
Till rising higher, higher, with loud, exultant roar,
The foaming, raging billows sweep o'er the crumbling shore.