Pieces People Ask For/The Man with the Musket

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THE MAN WITH THE MUSKET.

Soldiers, pass on from this rage of renown,
This ant-hill commotion and strife,
Pass by where the marbles and bronzes look down
With their fast-frozen gestures of life,
On, out to the nameless who lie 'neath the gloom
Of the pitying cypress and pine;
Your man is the man of the sword and the plume,
But the man of the musket is mine.

I knew him! by all that is noble, I knew
This commonplace hero I name!
I've camped with him, marched with him, fought with him too,
In the swirl of the fierce battle-flame!
Laughed with him, cried with him, taken a part
Of his canteen and blanket, and known
That the throb of this chivalrous prairie boy's heart,
Was an answering stroke of my own.

I knew him, I tell you! And, also, I knew
When he fell on the battle-swept ridge,
That the poor battered body that lay there in blue
Was only a plank in the bridge
Over which some should pass to fame
That shall shine while the high stars shall shine.
Your hero is known by an echoing name,
But the man of the musket is mine.

I knew him! All through him the good and the bad
Ran together and equally free;
But I judge as I trust Christ will judge the brave lad,
For death made him noble to me.
In the cyclone of war, in the battle's eclipse,
Life shook out its lingering sands,
And he died with the names that he loved on his lips,
His musket still grasped in his hands.
Up close to the flag my soldier went down,
In the salient front of the line:
You may take for your hero the men of renown,
But the man of the musket is mine.

H. S. Taylor, in The Century.