Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/210

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

He took the way of life that leads
To the sacred desk where the preacher pleads,
And placed his foot on the pulpit stair,
The gospel—banner of life—to bear.
When the cannon's boom o'er Sumter broke,
And the air was filled with traitorous smoke;
When brave men sprang with willing hearts
To their Country's flag to repel the darts
Which treason had hurled with malice wild
At the life of the mother, so good and mild,—
My boy stepped down from the preacher's stand,
And started forth, with life in hand,
To sell it dear, but to battle strong
With the loyal North against fearful wrong.
I know that he carries a magic spell
'Gainst the curse of our race to guard him well;
And I know, should he fall, his death will be
In the foremost ranks of loyalty.
And now, young men, an old man's prayer:—
Leave the bright wine in your glasses there;
Shun its allurements; for in its deep red
Is the blood of its victims dying and dead.
Fill up your glasses, and pledge your friend
In the crystal stream that Heaven doth send."

With a lowly bow, and the same meek air,
He has passed the door, and adown the stair;
While those he has left to their leader turn
With downcast eyes, and cheeks that burn.
Silent he stands as his glass he takes,
When the guest of the evening the silence breaks.
"Friends of my boyhood, the old man's prayer
Shall meet a response in the heart I wear.
I come to-night from a mother's side:
She watches my life with a parent's pride;
And I know 'tis the clearest wish of her heart,
In camp and in battle to keep me apart
From sin and temptation; unceasing will pray
Heaven's blessing to guard on my perilous way.
And this pledge will I leave her,—never again
The wine-cup's deadly poison to drain.
So, friends, let's drink to our meeting again:
My drink is the water, free from all stain."