Pieces People Ask For/After "Taps"

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Tramp! tramp! tramp! tramp!
As I lay with my blanket on,
By the dim firelight, in the moonlit night,
When the skirmishing fight was done.

The measured beat of the sentry's feet,
With the jingling scabbard's ring!
Tramp! tramp! in my meadow-camp
By the Shenandoah's spring!

The moonlight seems to shed cold beams
On a row of pale grave-stones:
Give the bugle breath, and that image of Death
Will fly from the reveille's tones.

By each tented roof, a charger's hoof
Makes the frosty hillside ring:
Give the bugle breath, and a spirit of Death
To each horse's girth will spring.

Tramp! tramp! tramp! tramp!
The sentry before my tent,
Guards in gloom his chief, for whom
Its shelter to-night is lent.

I am not there. On the hillside bare
I think of the ghost within;
Of the brave who died at my sword-hand side,
To-day, 'mid the horrible din

Of shot and shell, and the infantry yell,
As we charged with the sabre drawn.
To my heart I said, "Who shall be the dead
In my tent at another dawn?"

I thought of a blossoming almond-tree,
The stateliest tree that I know;
Of a golden bowl; of a parted soul;
And a lamp that is burning low.

Oh, thoughts that kill! I thought of the hill
In the far-off Jura chain;
Of the two, the three, o'er the wide salt sea,
Whose hearts would break with pain;

Of my pride and joy—my eldest boy;
Of my darling, the second—in years;
Of Willie, whose face with its pure, mild grace,
Melts memory into tears;

Of their mother, my bride, by the Alpine lake's side,
And the angels asleep in her arms;
Love, Beauty, and Truth, which she brought to my youth,
In that sweet April day of her charms.

"Halt! Who comes there?" The cold midnight air,
And the challenging word, chills me through:
The ghost of a fear whispers, close to my ear,
"Is peril, love, coming to you?"

The hoarse answer, "Relief," makes the shade of a grief
Die away, with the step on the sod.
A kiss melts in air, while a tear and a prayer
Confide my beloved to God.

Tramp! tramp! tramp! tramp!
With a solemn pendulum-swing !
Though I slumber all night, the fire burns bright,
And my sentinels' scabbards ring.

"Boot and saddle!" is sounding. Our pulses are bounding.
"To horse!" and I touch with my heel
Black Gray in the flanks, and ride down the ranks,
With my heart, like my sabre, of steel.

Horace Binney Sargent.