Awake, little daughter, awake!
The sad moon is weaving her shroud;
The pale, drooping lily-bells quake;
The river is sobbing aloud.
I wand your sweet face in my sight,
While I open my room to the night:
The torn clouds are flying, the lupine is sighing,
The whip-poor-will wails in affright.
There's a shadow just marked on the floor--
Now soaring and breaking its bond;
'T is the woodbine, perhaps, by the door,
Or the blooming acacia beyond.
Oh, pitiful weakness of grief!
Oh, trouble, of troubles the chief!
When shades can assail us, and terrors impale us,
At sight of a quivering leaf.
I weep, little daughter, I weep;
But chide me not, love, for I heard,
Three times in the depth of my sleep,
The clang of a terrible word.
"Your Harry is dying," it cried;
"Is dying" and "dying," it sighed;
As bells that, in tolling, set echoes to rolling,
Till fainting sound ebbs like the tide.
Then the walls of my room fell away;
My eye pierced the distance afar,
Where, by the plowed field of the fray,
The camp-fire shone out like a star.
And southward, unhindered, I fled,
By the instinct of motherhood led;
The night-wind was blowing, the red blood was flowing,
And Harry was dying--was dead!
I dreamed, little daughter, I dreamed--
Look! the window is lit by a face.
It is not? Well, how lifelike it seemed!
Go, draw down the curtains of lace.
It may be 't was only a flower;
For fancy has wonderful power.
The loud wind is whirring--hark! something is stirring--
'T is midnight--the clock knells the hour.
* * * * *
The horseman had ridden all night;
His garments were spotted with gore;
His foot crushed the lily-bells white--
He entered the vine-covered door.
"Your Harry is dying," he said:
The mother just lifted her head,
And answered, unweeping, like one who is sleeping,
"Not dying, good soldier, but dead!"