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Tbe picket Guard
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed
Far away in the cot on the mountain.
Grows gentle with memories tender,
For their mother-may Heaven defend her!
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then,
That night, when the love yet unspoken-
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.
He dashes off tears that are welling,
As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
The footstep is lagging and weary ;
Towards the shades of the forest so dreary. Hark! was it the night wind that rustled the leaves ?
Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing ? It looks like a rifle-ah! “Mary, good-bye!”
And the life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
All quiet along the Potomac to-night,
No sound save the rush of the river ;
The picket's off duty forever.
[In his admirably edited collection of poems of the civil war, entitled “Bugle Echoes,” Mr. Francis F. Browne introduces this poem with the following note :
"There has been no little dispute as to the authorship of this poem. The Philadelphia Press, in 1861, said it was 'written by a private in Company G, Stuart's engineer regiment, at Camp Lesley, near Washington.' But is may now be stated positively that it was written by a Confederate soldier, still living. The poem is usually printed in a very imperfect form, with the fourth, fifth, and sixth starizas omitted. The third line of the fifth stanza affords internal evidence of Southern origin."-EDITOR.]
LAS! the weary hours pass slow,
The night is very dark and still ; And in the marshes far below I hear the bearded whippoorwill ;
I scarce can see a yard ahead,
My ears are strained to catch each sound; I hear the leaves about me shed,
And the spring's bubbling through the ground.
Along the beaten path I pace,
Where white rays mark my sentry's track; In formless shrubs I seem to trace
The foeman's form with bending back, I think I see him crouching low;
I stop and list-I stoop and peer, Until the neighboring hillocks grow
To groups of soldiers far and near.
With ready piece I wait and watch,
Until my eyes, familiar grown, Detect each harmless earthen notch,
And turn guerrillas into stone ; And then, amid the lonely gloom,
Beneath the tall old chestnut trees, My silent marches I resume,
And think of other times than these.
Sweet visions through the silent night!
The deep bay windows fringed with vine, The room within, in softened light,
The tender, milk-white hand in mine;
The timid pressure, and the pause
That often overcame our speechThe time when by mysterious laws
We each felt all in all to each.
And then that bitter, bitter day,
When came the final hour to part; When, clad in soldier's honest gray,
I pressed her weeping to my heart ; Too proud of me to bid me stay,
Too fond of me to let me go, I had to tear myself away,
And left her, stolid in my woe.
So rose the dream, so passed the night,
When, distant in the darksome glen, Approaching up the sombre height
I heard the solid march of men ; Till over stubble, over sward,
And fields where lay the golden sheaf, I saw the lantern of the guard
Advancing with the night relief.
“Halt! Who goes there? my challenge cry,
It rings along the watchful line; “Relief !” I hear a voice reply ;
“Advance, and give the countersign !” Vol. II.