Lines on the Death of John Grayson


Lines On The Death Of John Grayson, Of Queen Anne’s County, Md.

He lay on the field where the harvest of glory
Piled up its ripest and richest of sheaves,
Where death with its locks all matted and gory
Its victims had strown like autumn-seared leaves.
Around him, the dead in silence reposing,
Scowling in death with a frown at the foe,
While the blood-dripping brave torn limbs were composing,
To Slumber in death or assuage the fierce woe.

He raised on his arm, which tottered with weakness,
Surveying the bloody remains of the strife.
But his eyes were fast glazing, he felt the death-sickness,
He knew that but little was left him of life.
His brow was now scorched by the red flame of fever,
No mother or sister could hear his deep sigh,
Or catch the last word that his full heart would leave her—
Alone—with the dead in his blood he must die!

The damp earth his mattress, a dead foe his pillow,
In manhood’s stern beauty he’d sleep with the dead,
With none to record each surging heart-billow,
No one when dying to raise up his head.
Yet he thought not of self, as anxiously gazing,
He beckoned his far distant comrades to come:
With a sigh for his State and a pray’r for his nation,
He gave his last thoughts to his heart-cherished home.

They’re coming! Oh God! and the grateful heart’s bursting,
”Tis trembling, ’tis fainting, ’tis hopeful in prayer;
Oh, hurry, for soon the fond heart that is thirsting
Shall yield Death its tribute and vanish in air.
They kneel on the spot where he fell in his glory,
For fear the hoarse whisper in death should be lost,
They see his proud smile as he speaks his brief story:
“Tell them at home that I died at my post!”

Oh, yes, they would promise, but he was departed;
His brow was now calm and his slumber was sweet;
They had seen him when earth with the battle-shock started,
The first in the van and the last in retreat.
They had seen him in camp, they had seen him on duty,
They had seen him frown death on the enemy’s host,
They had seen him deprive the fierce vandals of booty,
They could “Tell them at home that he died at his post!”

They knew the proud exile left home in its beauty
And war’s bloody field without murmur had trod,
He had given up all to perform the great duty
He owed to his country, to freedom and God.
And when the fierce conflict was raging around him:
He rushed to the slaughter regardless of cost,
And dying, sent comfort by those who surround him:
“Tell them at home that I died at my post!”

He lay on the field with his face toward Heaven,
With the same livid smile that he yielded the ghost,
And stern warriors wept in the pale glow of even
O’er him who had lived and had died at his post!
But the signal to meet gallant Jackson was given,
And join the proud phalanx that once was our boast.
And seraphs delighted proclaimed throughout Heaven,
“Welcome the Hero, who died at his post!”

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