The Poetry Corner

Dirge For A Soldier

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

In the east the morning comes, Hear the rollin' of the drums On the hill. But the heart that beat as they beat In the battle's raging day heat Lieth still. Unto him the night has come, Though they roll the morning drum. What is in the bugle's blast? It is: "Victory at last! Now for rest." But, my comrades, come behold him, Where our colors now enfold him, And his breast Bares no more to meet the blade, But lies covered in the shade. What a stir there is to-day! They are laying him away Where he fell. There the flag goes draped before him; Now they pile the grave sod o'er him With a knell. And he answers to his name In the higher ranks of fame. There's a woman left to mourn For the child that she has borne In travail. But her heart beats high and higher, With the patriot mother's fire, At the tale. She has borne and lost a son, But her work and his are done. Fling the flag out, let it wave; They 're returning from the grave-- "Double quick!" And the cymbals now are crashing, Bright his comrades' eyes are flashing From the thick Battle-ranks which knew him brave, No tears for a hero's grave. In the east the morning comes, Hear the rattle of the drums Far away. Now no time for grief's pursuing, Other work is for the doing, Here to-day. He is sleeping, let him rest With the flag across his breast.