Oft did a sentry, careworn and weary, gaze
At a curtained night;
Stirred by a nameless dread, till the star-shell’s blaze
          In a splendour of light.
Leaps in a dazzling curve through the empty sky,
Shines as the pledge of a Watcher unseen on high,
Shines as the promise of Life to the Brave that die;
          Till it sinks from sight.

Back fall the cumbrous folds of the purple dark;
          And the haunting fear
Rides in the voice of the wind ‘mid the corpses stark.
          Oh! the thought that there
Lies the wreckage of men and of many a young life’s hope,
By the fury of wanton Ambition strewn o’er the slope
Where the dead by inches died, and the Wounded grope
          In a blind despair. 

At long last comes a fugitive gleam, and the veil
          Of the night is rent,
Pierced by the first glad shafts of the dawning pale;
          And the firmament
Glows with the hope of a heart that forgets its pain,
As a bird’s voice climbs through the morn with a soft refrain,
Climbs and falls like the surge of a wave on the main.
          And the fear of the night is spent.