BALL'S BLUFF A REVERIE (OCTOBER 1861) by Herman Melville (1819-1891)

One noonday, at my window in the town, I saw a sight -- saddest that eyes can see -- Young soldiers marching lustily Unto the wars, With fifes, and flags in mottoed pageantry; While all the porches, walks, and doors Were rich with ladies cheering royally. They moved like Juny morning on the wave, Their hearts were fresh as clover in its prime (It was the breezy summer time), Life throbbed so strong, How should they dream that Death in rosy clime Would come to thin their shining throng? Youth feels immortal, like the gods sublime. Weeks passed; and at my window, leaving bed, By nights I mused, of easeful sleep bereft, On those brave boys (Ah War! thy theft); Some marching feet Found pause at last by cliffs Potomac cleft; Wakeful I mused, while in the street Far footfalls died away till none were left.