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Tbe picket Guard

13

And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed

Far away in the cot on the mountain.
His musket falls slack-his face, dark and grim,

Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep-

For their mother-may Heaven defend her!

The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then,

That night, when the love yet unspoken-
Leaped up to his lips—when low-murmured vows

Were pledged to be ever unbroken.
Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,

He dashes off tears that are welling,
And gathers his gun closer up to its place

As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree-

The footstep is lagging and weary ;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,

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 ;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead-

The picket's off duty forever.

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[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.]

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A

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;

Tbe Countersign

17

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.

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