Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SOLDIERS HERE TO-DAY, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

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SOLDIERS HERE TO-DAY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Soldiers and saviors of the homes
Last Line: And reap the harvest sure!
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Dreams; Freedom; Patriotism; Peace; Soldiers; War; Nightmares; Liberty


SOLDIERS and saviors of the homes we love;
Heroes and patriots who marched away,
And who marched back, and who marched on above --
All -- all are here to-day!

By the dear cause you fought for -- you are here;
At summons of bugle, and the drum
Whose palpitating syllables were ne'er
More musical, you come!

Here -- by the stars that bloom in fields of blue,
And by the bird above with shielding wings;
And by the flag that floats out over you,
With silken beckonings --

Ay, here beneath its folds are gathered all
Who warred unscathed for blessings that it gave --
Still blessed its champion, though it but fall
A shadow on his grave!


We greet you, Victors, as in vast array
You gather from the scenes of strife and death --
From spectral fortress-walls where curls away
The cannon's latest breath.

We greet you -- from the crumbling battlements
Where once again the old flag feels the breeze
Stroke out its tattered stripes and smooth its rents
With rippling ecstasies.

From living tombs where every hope seemed lost --
With famine quarantined by bristling guns --
The prison-pens -- the guards -- the "dead-line" crossed
By -- riddled skeletons!

From furrowed plains, sown thick with bursting shells --
From mountain gorge, and toppling crags o'erhead --
From wards of pestilential hospitals,
And trenches of the dead.


In fancy all are here. The night is o'er,
And through dissolving mists the morning gleams;
And clustered round their hearths we see once more
The heroes of our dreams.

Strong, tawny faces, some, and some are fair,
And some are marked with age's latest prime,
And, seer-like, browed and aureoled with hair
As hoar as winter-time.

The faces of fond lovers, glorified --
The faces of the husband and the wife --
The babe's face nestled at the mother's side,
And smiling back at life;

A bloom of happiness in every cheek --
A thrill of tingling joy in every vein --
In every soul a rapture they will seek
In Heaven, and find again!


'Tis not a vision only -- we who pay
But the poor tribute of our praises here
Are equal sharers in the guerdon they
Purchased at price so dear.

The angel, Peace, o'er all uplifts her hand,
Waving the olive, and with heavenly eyes
Shedding a light of love o'er sea and land
As sunshine from the skies --

Her figure pedestaled on Freedom's soil --
Her sandals kissed with seas of golden grain --
Queen of a realm of joy-requited toil
That glories in her reign.

O blessed land of labor and reward!
O gracious Ruler, let Thy reign endure;
In pruning-hook and plough-share beat the sword,
And reap the harvest sure!

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