Kate Harrington

(1831 - 1917 / Allegheny City, Pennsylvania)

The Dying Soldier - Poem by Kate Harrington

With forehead throbbing from pain,
With lips that were burning and dry,
A soldier lay, between heaps of slain,
By his comrades left to die.
Moans ! moans ! moans !
The air reeled, sick as they fell,
Yet still he sang the ' Song of the War,'
In the tone of a funeral knell.

'Fight ! fight! fight!
Through the summer's fervid heat;
And fight ! fight ! fight !
'Mid rain and snow and sleet.
Scarcely an hour to rest,
Scarcely an hour to pray,
Until, like me, a comrade falls
In the midst of the deadly fray.

' March ! march ! march !
Till the limbs are numb and sore;
And march ! march ! march !
Till the feet are bathed in gore.
Grown so athirst for blood
That, while halting, by woods or streams,
We fall asleep to meet our foes,.
And shoot them down in our dreams.

'On! on! on!
Brave comrades, with purpose true !
Your steadfast souls must never swerve
From the work ye dare to do.
For the Union ye must defend,—
Ay ! barter your lives to save,—
Now stands, like a reeling, tottering ship,
On the brink of a yawning grave.

' Peace ! peace ! peace !
O God ! will it never come ?
I can almost hear that pleading cry
From lips now pale and dumb ;
Can almost catch the words,
As they echo, near and far,
Through the widow's plaint and the orphan's wail,
' We have had enough of War !'

Home ! home ! home !
What memories o'er me steal!
It were sweet to die with the loved ones there,
In the room where we used to kneel
And offer our evening prayer
For those who had gone to fight ;
Ah me ! what a bitter time was that
When I breathed a sad l Good-night !'

'I think that I tasted all
The wormwood in sorrow's cup,
When Mary covered her streaming eyes
And held the baby up,—
When mother, so old and frail,
Came in for a parting kiss,
And prayed we might meet in a better world,
If not again in this.

' Home ! home ! home !
Oh, would they. were with me here !
To press their lips to my burning cheeks,
Or dew them with a tear.
Fond heart ! it is hard to go
When life seems so full of joy !
Who will shield my wife and the aged one,
And my helpless baby boy?'

With forehead throbbing from pain,
With lips that were fevered and dry,
A soldier lay, between heaps of slain,
By his comrades left to die.
The struggle—the fight was o'er;
His soul, on that summer's even,
Had floated off from the field of blood,
To Home and Peace and Heaven.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poem Edited: Thursday, August 7, 2014


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