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A shrill fife and a drum's wild beat,
And the throngs on the busy street
Give way;
For with banners blood-stained and rent,
And its strong men with shoulders bent,
Returns a brave regiment


Stalwart men who would laugh at fear,
Lovely women with children dear,
Matron and sire--
Tender maidens in beauty coy,
Ardent youths with their pulse of joy
And souls of fire--


Pause with a lingering gaze
In the midst of the crowded ways:
And moistening eyes
Watch the worn, battle-thinned line,
Stepping true to the martial time,
Till the beat of heroic rhyme
In distance dies.


The waves of that human sea
Of life and of destiny
Roll on once more;
Yet, over the city's roar,
The fife and the drum's wild strain,
Like some battle-song's refrain,
Catch my still listening ear;
Start anew the lingering tear;
And I know, I know full well,
By my own heart's aching swell,
How the pulses, gentle and rude,
Of that pausing multitude
With a nameless feeling beat,
A sympathy noble and sweet,
To the rhythm of patriot feet:--
How the battle's terrible joy
Surged up in the heart of the boy;
While the man who knew not fear
Was not ashamed of a tear,
As the story of marches sore,
Of rivers on rivers of gore
Mid the musketry's sulphurous breath,
and still, stark death,
Was told by an awful sign
In the worn and battle-thinned line,
And the strong men with shoulders bent,
Of the brave returned regiment.