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Eighteen Sixty-Two
by [?]


I.

There’s a tear in your eye, little Sybil,
Gathering large and slow;
Oh, Sybil, sweet little Sybil,
What are you thinking of now?

Push back the velvet curtains
That darken the lonely room,
For shadows peer out of the crimson depths,
And the statues gleam white in the gloom.

How the cannons’ thunder rolls along,
And shakes the lattice and wall,
Oh, Sybil, sweet little Sybil,
What if your father should fall?

The smoky clouds sweep up from the field
And darken the earth and sea,
“God save him! God save him!”
Wherever he may be.

II.

Oh, pretty dark-eyed bird of the South,
With your face so mournful and white
There is many a little Northern girl
That is breathing that prayer to-night.

There’s a little girl on the hills of Maine
Looking out through the fading light,
She looks down the winding path, and says,
“He will surely come to-night!”

The table is set, the lamp is trimmed,
The fire has a ruddy glow
That streams like a beacon down the path,
To the dusky valley below.

There is smiling hope on the pretty face
Pressed so close to the pane,
And her eyes are like blue violets
After a summer rain.

III.

How you tremble, little Sybil,
At the cannons’ dreadful sound,
Did you see far away, the fallen steed,
And its rider prone on the ground?

The dark brown locks so low in the dust,
The scarf with a crimson stain–
Oh, Sybil, poor little Sybil,
He will not come back again.

IV.

Right gallantly and well he fought
Hand to hand with as brave a foe,
Their faces hid by the nodding plumes,
And the dense clouds hanging low.

Did they think, these hot-blooded captains,
That Death was so close by their side,
When Howard has fallen, the bravest–
Rung out on the air far and wide.

“Howard?” His foeman kneels by his side,
And raises his head to his knee–
Oh, God! that brothers should part in youth,
And thus should their meeting be.

Unheard is the deafening battle roar,
Unseen is that dying look;
He hears but the sound of a childish laugh,
And the song of a Northern brook.

He sees two white forms kneeling
In the twilight sweet and dim,
One low couch angel-guarded,
By a mother’s evening hymn.

V.

The Angel of Death came down with the night,
Came down with the gathering gloom;
God pity the little dark-eyed girl,
Alone in the lonely room.

But still by his side his brother kneels,
Chill horror has frozen his veins;
He heeds not the glancing shower of shells,
That with red fire glitters and rains.

And he heeds not the fiery cavalry charge,
That sweeps like a billow on
To death, oh, the bravest and saddest sight,
That man ever gazed upon!

The last shot! What is one life
To the battle’s gory gain?
But, alas, for the little blue-eyed maid
Away on the hills of Maine!