ONLY A PRIVATE by Margaret Junkin Preston (1820-1897)

Only a private -- and who will care When I may pass away, Or how, or why I perish, or where I mix with the common clay? They will fill my empty place again With another as bold and brave; And they'll blot me out ere the autumn rain Has freshened my nameless grave. Only a private -- it matters not That I did my duty well, That all through a score of battles I fought, And then, like a soldier, I fell. The country I died for will never heed My unrequited claim; And History cannot record the deed, For she never has heard my name. Only a private -- and yet I know When I heard the rallying-call I was one of the very first to go, And . . . I'm one of the many who fall: But as here I lie, it is sweet to feel That my honor's without a stain, -- That I only fought for my country's weal, And not for glory or gain. Only a private -- yet He who reads Through the guises of the heart, Looks not at the splendor of the deeds, But the way we do our part; And when He shall take us by the hand, And our small service own, There'll a glorious band of privates stand As victors around the throne!

Soldier Life

This page is
Last modified 18-April-2001