Little Giffen

The Literature of the Civil War is fascinating to me. So in light of this my next posts for this next week will all be poemse or stories from the Civil War era. My first post on this subject will be the poem called Little Giffen.

Little Giffen                                                                                                                                                                  Francis O. Ticknor  (1822-1874)                                                                          

 Out of the focal and the foremost fire                                                                                                                       

Out of the hospital walls as dire                                                                                                                        

Smitten of grape-shot and gangrene                                                                                                             

(eighteenth battle and he sixteen)                                                                                                                         

Spectre such as you seldom see                                                                                                                               

Little Giffen of Tennessee

“Take him and welcome!” the surgeons said                                                                                                              

“Little the doctor can help the dead!”                                                                                                                         

So we took him and brought him where                                                                                                                

The balm was sweet in the summer air                                                                                                                   

And we laid him down on a wholesome bed                                                                                                      

Utter Lazarus, heel to head!

And we watched the war with abated breath                                                                                                   

Skeleton boy against skeleton death                                                                                                                    

Months of torture, how many such                                                                                                                     

Weary weeks of the stick and crutch                                                                                                                      

And still a glint of the steel-blue eye                                                                                                                     

Told of a spirit that wouldn’t die

And didn’t, Nay more! In death’s despite                                                                                                              

The crippled skeleton learned to write                                                                                                               

“Dear Mother” at first of course and then                                                                                                            

“Dear Captain” inquiring about the men                                                                                                       

Captain’s answer “Of eighty-and-five                                                                                                                  

Giffen and I are left alive”

Words of gloom from the war, one day                                                                                                      

“Johnston pressed at the front they say”                                                                                                           

Little Giffen was up and away                                                                                                                                           

A tear-his first as he bade good-bye                                                                                                                   

Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye                                                                                                                    

“I’ll write if spared!” There was news of the fight                                                                                                 

But none of Giffen, he did not write

I sometimes fancy that I were a king                                                                                                                         

Of the princely knights of the Golden Ring                                                                                                            

With the song of the minstrel in mine ear                                                                                                              

And the tender legend that trembles here                                                                                                             

I’d give the best on his bended knee                                                                                                                       

The whitest soul of my chivalry                                                                                                                                 

For little Giffen of Tennessee

I dedicate this to all the boys who died during the Civil War on both sides.

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 3:11 am  Comments (2)  


  1. You may want to visit my blog. I am a poet. My poems are all inspired in one way or another by the Civil War. Please, take a look.

    • I most definatly will sir! Thank you for reading my blog

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