The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 375 pages of information about The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems.

“Night with her pall had wrapped the bloody field. 
The little remnants of our regiment
Were gathered and encamped upon the hill. 
Paul was not with them, and they could not tell
Aught of him.  I had seen him in the fight
Bravest of all the brave.  I saw him last
When first the foremost foemen reached our wall,
Thrusting them off with bloody bayonet,
And shouting to his comrades, ’Steady, men!’
Sadly I wandered back where we had met
The onset of the foe.  The rounds of cheers
Repeated oft still swept from corps to corps,
And as I passed along the line I saw
Our dying comrades raise their weary heads,
And cheer with feeble voices.  Even in death
The cry of victory warmed their hearts again. 
Paul lay upon the ground where he had fought,
Fast by the flag that floated on the line. 
He slept—­or seemed to sleep, but on his brow
Sat such a deadly pallor that I feared
My Paul would never march and fight again. 
I raised his head—­he woke as from a dream;
I said, ’Be quiet—­you are badly hurt;
I’ll call a surgeon; we will dress your wound.’ 
He gravely said: 

“’Tis vain; for I have done
With camp and march and battle.  Ere the dawn
Shall I be mustered out of your command,
And mustered into the Grand Host of heaven.’

“I sought a surgeon on the field and found;
With me he came and opened the bloody blouse,
Felt the dull pulse and sagely shook his head. 
A musket ball had done its deadly work;
There was no hope, he said, the man might live
A day perchance—­but had no need of him. 
I called his comrades and we carried him,
Stretched on his blankets, gently to our camp,
And laid him by the camp-fire.  As the light
Fell on Paul’s face he took my hand and said: 



“Captain, I hear the cheers.  My soul is glad. 
My days are numbered, but this glorious day—­
Like some far beacon on a shadowy cape
That cheers at night the storm-belabored ships—­
Will light the misty ages from afar. 
This field shall be the Mecca.  Here shall rise
A holier than the Caaba where men kiss
The sacred stone that flaming fell from heaven. 
But O how many sad and aching hearts
Will mourn the loved ones never to return! 
Thank God—­no heart will hope for my return! 
Thank God—­no heart will mourn because I die! 
Captain, at life’s mid-summer flush and glow,
For him to die who leaves his golden hopes,
His mourning friends and idol-love behind,
It must be hard and seem a cruel thing. 
After the victory—­upon this field—­For
me to die hath more of peace than pain;
For I shall leave no golden hopes behind,
No idol-love to pine because I die,
No friends to wait my coming or to mourn. 
They wait my coming in the world beyond;

Project Gutenberg
The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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