A Message

This is a poem about a man killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill and the message he sent after he was wounded.

A Message
E. S. P. Ward (1844- 1911)

Was there ever a message sweeter                                                                                              

Than that one from Malvern Hill                                                                                                     

From a grim old fellow- you remember                                                                                         

Dying in the dark at Malvern Hill                                                                                                   

With his rough face turned a little                                                                                                   

On a heap of scarlet sand

They found him just within the thicket

With a picture in his hand

With a stained and crumpled picture

 Of a women’s aged face

 Yet there seemed to leap a wild entreaty

Young and living- tender from the face

 When they flashed the lantern on it

Gilding all the purple shade

 And they stooped to raise him softly

 “That’s my mother sir” he said

 “Tell her”- but he wandered, slipping

 Into tangled words and cries

 Something about Mac and Hooker

Some thing dropping through the cries

 About the kitten by the fire

 And mother’s cranberry-pies and there

The words fell and an utter silence brooded in the air

 Just as he was drifting from them

Out into the dark alone

(Poor old mother waiting for your message

 Waiting with the kitten all alone!)

Through the hush his voice, “Tell her

 Thank you Doctor- when you can

Tell her that I kissed her picture

 And wished that I’d been a better man

 Ah, I wonder if the red feet

Of departed battle-hours

May not leave for us their searching Message from those distant hours.

 Sisters, daughters, mothers, think you

 Would your heroes now or then

 Dying, kiss your pictured faces

 Wishing they’d been better men?

This is dedicated to all the men who died without saying good bye to loved ones.

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Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 12:11 am  Comments Off on A Message  
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