THE YOUNG VOLUNTEER
A Story of the Present Times by Henry C. Blount
(Written for the Cincinnati Enquirer)
[The author acknowledges his indebtedness to J.W. Scott, Esq., for some of the items contained in the following lines:] Ghent, Kentucky, June 13, 1862
The voice of the people was calling for war,
and patriots aloud were answ'ring the call,
To fight for their country, the home of the brave,
To fight for their dear ones, dearer than all.
Ah! The parting of friends, parting of lovers,
Oft bend the proud heart, oft moistens the eye,
Beholding the brave going boldly to battleâ€”
To battle to live, or to battle to die.
An evening in Autumn-shall such be again?
A true and brave gallant enlisted one yearâ€”
His father, his mother, his sister in vain
Entreated and wept."Stay! stay! stay! with us,
Oh! The anquish of the hearts, that then wrung in
A motherâ€™s heart bent â€˜neath afflictionâ€™s dark
Yet refused he to stayâ€”he rushed from them there,
To breathe his farewell to another dear charm.
That true and brave gallant, Elwardo by name,
Lovâ€™d fondly and deeply Emelina the fair,
Who dear lovâ€™d in return-whose liveâ€™s highest aim,
Was to lessen his toils, and his joys to share.
"Emelina," said he,"Emelina, my dear,
The field of the battle had callâ€™d me itâ€™s own;
I must leave thee awhile, obey the command-
Leave thee, but will come-though, I leave thee
"Go not, my Elwardo, go not to the war;
Have tears any language to ask thee to stay?
Live here where is peace-where not even ajar-
Elwardo! Elwardo! Why go thus away?"
These impassionâ€™d, wild strains sink deep in his soul;
But love of fame still appears-calls him yet on-
Said, while tears gushâ€™d his eyes-these could not
"Emelina! Emelina! I soon must be gone."
Iâ€™ll gain for us glory, and then come again,
If thou wilt but love me forever, and"--"Aye,"
She replied, "Yes, ever, you ask not in vainâ€”
As true as the night ever follows the day."
She gave him a locket, her image was there;
He gave but a kissâ€”had he naught else to giveâ€”
And thus for the war left Emelina the fair;
Thus he left her to weep, thus left her to grieve.
Soon battle-fields dismal appearâ€™d on his viewâ€”
The groans of the dying fell sad on his ear,
And charges, pursuits, as the enemy flewâ€”
He feared not, he cared not, if he should die there.
Heard the soldierâ€™s profane, swear loudly and shrillâ€”
â€˜Tâ€™was strange to him then, but not long so to be,
For the toils of the field, and the glory to kill,
Soon taught him to say, "It is true, too, of me."
And oft by the watchfire, when arms were laid by,
And spirits depressâ€™d, in all death to his ear,
He would gaze on her image-for whom he would die
At the hand of his foe-from which he took cheer.
Forts almost impregnable were stormâ€™d and brought
Marches, countermarches, pursuit in the rout,
Were the only engagements, else not could be
Here the brave found a home, the timid grew stout.
Thus went the drear time of the slow-rolling year,
For which he enlisted, now which he passâ€™d-
With glory and fame, and hope mingled with fear,
Arrives near the home of his childhood at last.
He asked for his lovâ€™d one, Emelina, the fair,
Whom long he had left, though he lovâ€™d none be-
Was told,"Emelina, who he sought, was not there,
Someday had she gone, and fearâ€™d she had died."
He howled in his spirit-He howled to the wind-
He pourâ€™d the sad tale of a hope that was lost,
While dreams fillâ€™d with frenzy swept over his mind,
As a rudderless ship on ocean, heâ€™s tossâ€™d.
He went to his home-oh! How changâ€™d was that
His parents of childhood had gone to their grave-
"Oh! God, " He exclaimâ€™d,"am I left thus alone?
Why longer wilt spare me? Let me die, I pray."
His fatherâ€™s sad heart bleeds no more for his boy,
A motherâ€™s soul breaks, now, no more for her child,
His old home no more can greet him with joy,
Hell had left it in gloom, deserted and wild!
As if â€˜twas forbidden to go to his home!
Elwardo burst forth in woe without measure;
"Iâ€™ll go to the battle, here comfort is none.
"I look on the ruins, here moldâ€™ring around,
And my sad desolation my symbol is found;
A temple undone! none to mourn but the gale!
"Emelina! Emelina! where, where dost thou dwell?
But I call thee in vain, no answerâ€™s for me!
Farewell to the scenes of my boyhood, farewell!
Iâ€™ll weep for thee often, but never more see."
There awhile overwhelmâ€™d, he sank in his grief,
Till a wave, like some madness, burst over his soul,
A change that oft follows, but brings no relief
But its victims incites, be resolute, be bold.
"Iâ€™ll scoff," he cried, "laugh at the cannonâ€™s loud roar,
Nor weep when my fellow falls dead at my feet;
Will rejoice when the field is bathing in gore,
Rather sheathe with my heart the sword than
Soon reckless of danger, heâ€™s found on the field,
To him what was life? Had no fear for the foe;
He pressâ€™d but for victâ€™ry, forgot how to yield;
He returnâ€™d shot for shot, returnâ€™d blow for blow.
To the hospital went, one evening as roamâ€™d,
In large New Orleans. There a young trooper lay
Just brought from the field, but he nearly was gone,
For deathâ€™s chilly hand had laid hold on his prey.
The name on his couch was a strange one to him;
He thought that heâ€™d met him somewhere through
As the youth madly shrieked-a maniacâ€™s din-
Elwardo drew near, where the young trooper lay.
He lifts up the visor, which partly concealed
The strangerâ€™s pale features, distintive to view-
Oh! Ye Gods! what a sight was here now revealâ€™d
As the auburn locks fell-Elwardo withdrew,
And in horror exclaimed: "Emelina! the fair,
Canst speak to Elwardo? Elwardo thine own?
Canâ€™t tell, Emilina, how comest thou here,
So far from thy kindred, so far from thy home?"
"Elwardo!" she cried, "Where, oh! Where now art
"Here, dear one,â€™s Elwardo here, close to thy side."
She she screamed in her madness-no reason had now-
"Base villain, be gone! Well I know that yeâ€™ve lied!"
Then murmurâ€™d: "Elwardo, Iâ€™ll meet thee in Heaven,
And"â€”Here fell her last word, she passâ€™d then away.
Elwardo claspâ€™d warmly, but could not enliven,
And he bent as a reed â€˜neath griefâ€™s bitter sway.
"Oh,God!" In his anquish, he called once again,
"Let this frail bark of mine, too, sink in the wave!
Oh! Let me not thus driftâ€™ mid sorrow and painâ€”
Oh! Take me to rest, give me rest in the grave!"
On the morrow in sadness, in silence alone,
He made her a home, where we all must soon be;
He left her in sorrow, he raised not a stoneâ€”
No dirge-but the winds mourn in wild melody.
How true was that heart in this world of much guile,
In the garb of a soldier to seek whom she lovâ€™d;
Though fate so adverse allowâ€™d them but awhile
A meetingâ€”but â€˜twill be forever above.
"Emelina, I go" he cried,"Rest from thy pain.
In the land of the stranger, land, to, of battle.
No conflict of arms will molest thee again,
Though â€˜bove thee is pourâ€™d the cannonâ€™s loud rattle.
"My bark may yet-on this dull, sluggish tide,
Wherever-howlong-not forgetting the past,
Till I sink to my rest, or thoughtless to guide,
Founder on shoals of adversity at last.
"Look down, parted shade, see a wanderer here,
who seeks not for rest, can expect it no more,
till this soul leaves itâ€™s frame to seek it elsewhere,
where streams of life flow on eternityâ€™s shore!"