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Lyrics of Love and Laughter

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Dirge for a Soldier

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1913
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Source: Dunbar, P.L. (1913). The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 6.5
  • Word Count: 282

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In the east the morning comes,
Hear the rollin’ of the drums

On the hill.
But the heart that beat as they beat
In the battle’s raging day heat
Lieth still.
Unto him the night has come,
Though they roll the morning drum.
What is in the bugle’s blast?
It is: “Victory at last!

Now for rest.”
But, my comrades, come behold him,
Where our colors now enfold him,
And his breast
Bares no more to meet the blade,
But lies covered in the shade.
What a stir there is to–day!
They are laying him away

Where he fell.
There the flag goes draped before him;
Now they pile the grave sod o’er him
With a knell.
And he answers to his name
In the higher ranks of fame.
There’s a woman left to mourn
For the child that she has borne

In travail.
But her heart beats high and higher,
With the patriot mother’s fire,
At the tale.
She has borne and lost a son,
But her work and his are done.
Fling the flag out, let it wave;
They ‘re returning from the grave—

“Double quick!”
And the cymbals now are crashing,
Bright his comrades’ eyes are flashing
From the thick
Battle–ranks which knew him brave,
No tears for a hero’s grave.
In the east the morning comes,
Hear the rattle of the drums

Far away.
Now no time for grief’s pursuing,
Other work is for the doing,
Here to–day.
He is sleeping, let him rest
With the flag across his breast.