Achsa White Sprague

Nov. 17, 1827 - Jul. 6, 1862


The Soldier's Shroud

by Achsa White Sprague

He lay upon the battle-field,
His forehead to the sky,
The death-damp in his matted hair,
And dim his glazing eye;
Embalmed within his own heart's blood
At Freedom's altar shed,
Among the heroes of that strife, --
The dying and the dead.

He lay upon the battle-field,
No friend nor loved one nigh;
He wrapped his banner round his form,
Most royally to die.
He bore it proudly in the fight;
A sacred charge 'twas given;
Fold after fold it floated out,
And caught the stars of heaven.

It led the way to Freedom's foes,
That patriot's eye might see,
And stronger grow at every sight,
The Flag of Liberty.
He bore it proudly, though the blood
Was flowing from his side,
Though drop by drop his life went out,
It floated in its pride.

He bore it onward, though his step
Grew faint, and weak, and slow,
Still, still upraised; -- he could not bear
To see it trailing low.
And when at last his latest power
Failed, with his failing breath,
He fell amid its glorious folds,
All shrouded in his death.

Had ever soldier better shroud,
Upon the battle-plain?
'Twould almost make the dead arise
To bear it on again.
Had ever soldier better shroud? --
To him the stars seemed given,
To light the gloomy vale of death,
And lead him safe to heaven.

He lay in state; though but his foes
Beheld him in his pride.
He lay in state; as if in death
Their power he still defied.
'Twas sad to see his fair young face,
So pale, so still, so cold;
Yet could he well afford to die,
Wrapped in that Banner's fold.

Brave soldier! if, in brighter lands,
Unto thy hand is given
The snow-white Banner, Flag of Truce,
Oh, bear it back from heaven!
And join our ranks, and let it float,
Till all shall turn to thee,
Till white-robed Peace, within our midst,
Joins hands with Liberty!


The Poet And Other Poems.
Copyright 1864
Boston: William White And Co.,
158 Washington Street.