Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POEM, READ THE SOLDIERS' WELCOME, FRANKLIN, NEW YORK, AUG. 5, 1865, by B. H. BARNES

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First Line: The heroes of a hundred fields
Last Line: For peace and liberty!
Subject(s): American Civil War; Death; Homecoming; Life; Soldiers; United States - History; Dead, The

The heroes of a hundred fields
Are gathered here to-day;
And banners wave, and cheers applaud
The patriot array.

Proud parents boast their noble sons;
Fond wives their husbands, dear;
And loyal maidens smile sweet praise
On every volunteer.

Loud cornet-blare and throbbing drums --
Soft Zephyr's bland caress --
Bright eyes, swift pulses, pealing songs,
Bespeak our happiness.

The birds are gayer -- brighter flow
The brooklet's wave and foam --
And th' way-side cattle seem to low
The Soldiers' "welcome home!"

O, cheerfully, the patriot leaves
Home, comfort, all, to share
The toils and dangers of the field,
If duty calls him there.

And well he bears War's stern fatigues --
Counting privations light --
May he but gain his Country's thanks,
Through triumph for the right.

But when the tidings of release
From faithful service come,
The warrior wings his eager feet
To taste the joys of home.

With sparkling eye he hails each hill
And well-remember'd peak --
How cool the Northern breezes fall
Upon his bronzed cheek!

Forgotten, are his years of toil --
Wounds, prison, hunger, pain --
No room in Joy's full harmony
For Sorrow's sad refrain.

Home, home again! the sweet tho't wakes
Glad music in his soul --
And consciousness of duty done
Pours wine in Pleasure's bowl.

Surrounded by the loving ones
That come at Friendship's call,
The soldier sings his wild war-songs,
While evening shadows fall.

Young children, nestled on his knee --
Fair maiden at his side --
Or wife, or mother, sire or friend,
With patriotic pride

List to the warrior's thrilling tales
Of camp, and march, and fight;
Until the young hours of the morn
Are nearer than the night.

Welcome, brave hearts! we gladly press
The victor's glowing palm!
Come, brothers, crowned with honor, peace,
And Freedom's blessed calm!

* * *

Three years ago the trumpet-call
Of Liberty out-rang!
And from the hills of Delaware,
A thousand patriots sprang

To check the tide of Treason's flood,
That rolled its angry waves,
Cap'd with Rebellion's bloody foam,
Up, from the land of slaves!

Our peaceful skies were dark'ning fast --
Home trembled with alarms!
And freemen felt the hour must have
The strength of their strong arms.

The loyal farmer left his fields,
Just shorn of golden grain --
The blacksmith flung aside his sledge --
The carpenter, his plane:

The merchant closed the ledger's lids,
With clenched and nervous hands --
And clerk, and squire, step'd proudly forth
In Uncle Sam's brogans.

The pale-eyed student doff'd his gown,
And don'd the blouse of blue;
Eager to grapple with the wrong
And prove his courage true!

And th' preacher, from his wonted place,
Pray'd God protect his flock;
And clasp them tenderly the while
He clasp'd the musket-stock!

Stout, brawny limbs and thick-set beards;
Betok'ning manhood's prime --
The slender, stripling forms of youth;
That show'd no touch of time --

Came pouring down, thro' gorge and glen --
From vale and rock-bar'd steep --
And from the deep, green hemlock woods,
Where frighten'd cascades leap.

All, with one mission -- grandly high!
One purpose to perform;
As pure as ever prompted prayer;
Or nerved a patriot's arm --

All rallied 'round the dear old flag,
For which their fathers bled!
And vow'd to follow and defend
Tho' marching to the dead!

We trusted you -- you'd faith in us --
As one, our fates were sealed --
O, how we watched your steady tramp,
Forth to the battle-field!

What time war's wild tornado howl'd
Its fury through the years,
We asked, "God shield from every harm
Our noble volunteers."

"But should the cruel battle-blast
E'er lay our darlings low,
Aye let them fall, as they have lived --
Their faces to the foe!"

And when, anon, the lightning flash'd
Glad tidings for the free,
We made these rugged hill-sides ring
With cheers for victory!

The hopes and fears of those wild years
Are not forgotten yet --
Still, with their ling'ring memories,
Our eyes are sometimes wet.

And, Soldiers, when your letters told
(No word of murm'ring meant)
Of all your suff'rings for the cause,
In hospital and tent;

How trill'd the chords of woman's heart!
How fast her needles flew!
What sweet remittances of love,
And faith, and courage, too!

I need not tell -- the warrior's breast,
Like a rich treasure-store,
Is full of fond remembrances;
Worth more than golden ore.

Yes, woman's countless, kindly deeds,
Borne to our braves, afar --
Have cancel'd half the wrong and woe
And misery of war.

Ay, in the granaries of God,
Is garner'd Virtue's grain,
That ne'er had grown on Freedom's soil
Without her battle-rain!

And when, alas! some fallen lad --
To roll of muffled drum,
Timed to the pattering dirge of tears --
Came to his Northern home;

Wrap'd in the banner he had borne
Against the cannon's breath --
Came, from his comrades far a-field,
On the long parole of death;

We laid him where his fathers sleep;
'Neath Freedom's spreading trees --
And left him with the birds, and flowers,
And grateful memories.

* * *

Still boom'd the guns! and louder rang
Bold Freedom's trumpet calls!
And other thousands swept along
To man her breaching walls.

Still play'd the shifting game of war:
And, driv'n from cliff to crag,
The 'wilder'd eagles dared not fold
Their wings on either flag;

Until God taught the Nation this;
Through strife, defeats and pains --
"Your day of triumph ne'er shall dawn
On th' slave's unbroken chains!"

O then that firm, but generous hand --
True, honest, sure, though slow --
Gain'd Heaven's smile; and dealt the wrong
Its heaviest, deadliest, blow.

And they that wore the galling yoke,
In this and other lands,
Beheld the morning star of Hope;
And stretched their joyful hands!

And from the dust, the toil-bow'd slave,
His eye on Freedom's form --
Stood up! and bared his ebon breast
To treason's fiercest storm.

Thus side by side -- On! marching on --
The Union patriots trod:
Down-bearing every hand that fought
Humanity and God!

Then arch'd the bow, with promise bright!
Our eagles, from the sun,
Perch'd proudly on the starry flag;
And victory was won!

O, if the mighty dead are given
Their angel-brows to grace
With glorious actions here perform'd,
To free and bless the race;

Then does the crown of Lincoln shine
Resplendent as the sun!
And heaven is songful for the deed
Our martyr'd Chief has done!

Soldiers, no higher honors crave --
None nobler wait for ye, --
Than wreath your names with his who wro't
This work of Liberty.

Soldiers, your work is done! and well;
It bears the seal "Complete!"
For they who trampled on the flag
Are pleading at your feet.

But, should the clouds of war again
O'ercast our land with gloom,
Go, consecrate your swords anew
At Abra'am Lincoln's tomb!

* * *

Nor history's page, nor poet's pen
Can e'er recount the deeds
Wrought by the gallant Union host
To serve their Country's needs.

But every brave of every race,
Or color, clime or name;
Has earn'd the royal right to hold
His title-deed of fame.

Whether before the cannon's mouth --
By bayonet or shell --
Or, by the stealthy picket's fire,
The faithful soldier fell:

Or, on the dusty, weary march --
By Southern prison-damps --
Amidst the fever-breeding chills
Of cheerless winter camps:

Or, whether, down th' Atlantic main,
Where blist'ring sunbeams dart
Fierce, poison'd arrows of disease,
That fasten in the heart --

The noisome, pestilential plague
Out-stretch'd his yellow hand;
And grasp'd a patriot's life, and hid
A soldier in the sand:

It matters not: no tithe of worth
Shall ever fade or fall --
A People's heart-felt gratitude
O'erflows with thanks to all.

Soldiers, your battle-work is done!
The strife is over now --
From plowing red Rebellion's ranks,
Come, follow Freedom's plow!

As you have nail'd the old flag fast,
Redeeming thus your pledge --
Come kindle up the smould'ring forge;
And swing the rusty sledge!

As you have smooth'd the track for Truth,
Now shove the smoothing plane!
And, student, from the scroll of blood,
Turn to your books again.

Thus, we will plow, and hew, and forge;
As in the days gone by: --
Free, happy, joyous, thanking God
For Peace and Liberty!

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