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Poetic Reflections
Poetry of F. O. Hodge

"DEATH OF THE YOUNG VOLUNTEER"

On the outer line, on picket,
  A soldier stands tonight;
But one among the many
  That long for morning light.

He's young and small and childlike,
  And fragile is his form;
He walks the beat but feebly,
  Unused to cold and storm,

He stops with arms at shoulder,
  While pacing to and fro,
And sighs, 'tis tedious duty,
  On picket in the snow.

I see a pleasant fireside
  Among the hills afar,
Where once I lived securely
  Before I went to war.

I see my mother sitting,
  With care upon her brow;
She's thinking of me often----
  She's thinking of me now.

My heart goes back while thinking;
  The days have seemed like years;
My mother's earnest counsel,
  My sister's bitter tears.

He wiped his eyes, while thinking,
  Upon his sleeve of blue;
A boy in form and stature----
  His boyish heart was true.

My father was a soldier,
  And fell at Monterey;
And I can just remember
  The time he went away.

I love the glorious banner
  Of Freedom, raised on high;
The striped and starry emblem
  That saw my father die.

My grandsire fought beneath the folds,
  Great Britain,
To guard it from unholy touch;
  In guarding it he died.

It was their pride,----it shall be mine,
  And none will ever say
That I, a soldier, ever shrunk
  From duty, night or day.

But cold and wearied tho' I am,
  I walk my snowy beat;
One lingering hour, and then relief----
  But oh, the cold and sleet.

The hour dragged slowly, slowly by,
  Slow was the soldiers tread
And weak,---he waits---the sure relief'
  Comes when the hour was fled.

It comes, but oh! Too late for him
  Flushed was his fevered brow,
And turned his brain---no power can save
  The youthful soldier now.

His grim and bearded comrades come,
  With kindly hearts and strong;
On litter, framed of glittering arms,
  They bore the lad along.

O'er weary miles through snowy fields,
  By light of glimmering lamp,
Fatigued and worn, they struggled on,
  And reached, at morn, the camp.

He idly, wildly raved and talked,
  And smiled, and whispered low,
To absent loved ones words of joy
  And then his pulse grew slow.

And slower still, until the last,
  He raised himself and cried
"Here runs the river, and my sire
  Stands on the other side."

"He beckons me with glittering sword;
  Father I come", he said;
And stretched himself upon his cot;
  The soldier boy was dead.

With volleys and with muffled drum,
  We laid him down to rest;
With tears of sorrow in our eyes,
  And sighing in each breast.

Rear high the column to his name,
  For he was good and brave;
He fell not on the field of strife,
  But fills a soldiers grave.

Hemenway, Abby Maria, editor. Vermont Historical Gazetteer, (A. M. Hemenway, Burlington, VT., 1871), ii:692.

Submitted by Deanna French.

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