A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown

A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown,
A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,
Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,
Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted
building,
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted
building,
'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu
hospital,
Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and
poems ever made,
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and
lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and
clouds of smoke,
By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some
in the pews laid down,
At my feet more distinctly a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of
bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)
I stanch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face is white as a
lily,)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene fain to absorb
it all,
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity,
some of them dead,
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether,
odor of blood,
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms, the yard outside also
fill'd,
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the
death-spasm sweating,
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders or calls,
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of
the torches,
These I resume as I chant, I see again the forms, I smell the odor,
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad, his eyes open, a half-smile gives
he me,
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the
darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks,
The unknown road still marching.
A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak
Gray and Dim

A SIGHT in camp in the daybreak gray and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital
tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended
lying,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket,
Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first
just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray'd hair,
and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?
Then to the second I step - and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third - a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of
beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you - I think this face is the face of the
Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.


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