I know the sun shines, and the lilacs are blowing, And the summer sends kisses by beautiful May -- Oh! to see all the treasures the spring is bestowing, And think my boy Willie enlisted today. It seems but a day since at twilight, low humming, I rocked him to sleep with his cheek upon mine, While Robby, the four-year old, watched for the coming Of father, adown the street's indistinct line. It is many a year since my Harry departed, To come back no more in the twilight or dawn: And Robby grew weary of watching, and started Alone on the journey his father had gone. It is many a year -- and this afternoon sitting At Robby's old window, I heard the band play, And suddenly ceased dreaming over my knitting, To recollect Willie is twenty today. And that, standing beside him this soft May-day morning, And the sun making gold of his wreathed cigar smoke, I saw in his sweet eyes and lips a faint warning, And choked down the tears when he eagerly spoke: "Dear mother, you know how these Northmen are crowing, They would trample the rights of the South in the dust, The boys are all fire; and they wish I were going --" He stopped, but his eyes said. "Oh, say if I must!" I smiled on the boy, though my heart it seemed breaking, My eyes filled with tears, so I turned them away, And answered him, "Willie, 'tis well you are waking -- Go, act as your father would bid you, today!" I sit in the window, and see the flags flying, And drearily list to the roll of the drum, And smother the pain in my heart that is lying And bid all the fears in my bosom be dumb. I shall sit in the window when summer is lying Out over the fields, and the honey-bee's hum Lulls the rose at the porch from her tremulous sighing, And watch for the face of my darling to come. And if he should fall --his young life he has given For freedom's sweet sake; and for me, I will pray Once more with my Harry and Robby in Heaven To meet the dear boy who enlisted today.

The Home Front

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Last modified 16-April-2001