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The Mother

From The Times Dispatch, August 13, 1914.

I hear the blaring bands go by; I hear the marching feet;
All day they drum their dreadful dirge along the dusty street.
I hear the crowds give cheer on cheer of fierce and furious joy,
And wonder if they see him there—my little, little boy.
A baby only yesterday, with soft and sunny hair;
So helpless and so innocent; so fragile, and so fair!

So strong I felt to shield him then, safe sheltered in my arm,
It seemed the whole wide world could never do him any harm.
And oh, the long, long nights I watched beside his trundle bed
To fight away the pain that racked his little fevered head.
I fought his battles for him then; he leaves my side today
To fight far greater ones alone, and oh, so far away.

The little dimpled hand that lay so trustingly in mine
Must grasp a rifle barrel soon along the firing line.
My baby boy I held so close I felt his fluttering breath
Has left me empty-armed and gone to see the face of death.
And never mother’s voice to soothe, nor mother’s arm to shield,
From all the direful perils of the smoke-hung battlefield.

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