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Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night.

Part of the cluster DRUM-TAPS.


VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night: When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side  
 that day,
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes return'd,  
 with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reach'd up as  
 you lay on the ground;
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested  
Till late in the night reliev'd, to the place at last again I  
 made my way;
Found you in death so cold, dear comrade—found your  
 body, son of responding kisses, (never again on  
 earth responding;)
Bared your face in the starlight—curious the scene—  
 cool blew the moderate night-wind;
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me  
 the battle-field spreading;
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant  
 silent night;
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh—Long,  
 long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side,  
 leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with  
 you, dearest comrade—Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death—vigil for you, my son  
 and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones up- 
 ward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you,  
 swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living—I think  
 we shall surely meet again;)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the  
 dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his  
  [ begin page 281 ]ppp.00270.283.jpg Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head,  
 and carefully under feet;
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my  
 son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I de- 
Ending my vigil strange with that—vigil of night and  
 battle-field dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth  
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain—vigil I never forget,  
 how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well  
 in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.

Part of the cluster DRUM-TAPS.

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