George William Bagby.

Selections from the miscellaneous writings of Dr. George W. Bagby (Volume 1) online

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the old pianner go. He fetcht up his right wing, he
fetcht up his left wing, he fetcht up his centre, he
fetcht up his reserves. He fired by file, he fired by
platoons, by company, by regiments and by brigades.
He opened his cannon, siege guns down thar, Napo-
leons here, twelve-pounders yonder, big guns, little
guns, middle-size guns, round shot, shell, shrap-
nel, grape, canister, mortars, mines and magazines,



398

every livin' battery and bomb a'goin' at the same-
time. The house trembled, the lights danced, the
walls shuk, the floor come up, the ceilin' come
down, the sky split, the ground rockt heavens and
earth, creation, sweet potatoes, Mosses, nine-pences,.
glory, ten-penny nails, my Mary Ann, hallelujah,
Samson in a 'simmon tree, Jeroosal'm, Tump Tomp-
son in a tumbler-cart, roodle-oodle-oodle-oodle
ruddle-uddle-uddle-uddle raddle-addle-addle-addle
addle riddle-iddle-iddie-iddle reetle-eetle-eetle
eetle-eetle-eetle p-r-r-r-r-r-lang ! per lang! per-
plang! p-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-lang ! BANG!

With that bang ! he lifted hisself bodily into the
ar', and he come down with his knees, his ten fingers,,
his ten toes, his elbows and his nose, striking every
single solitary key on that pianner at the same time.
The thing busted and went off into seventeen hundred
and fifty-seven thousand five hundred and forty-two
hemi-demi-semi-quivers, and I know'd no mo'.

""When I come too, I were under ground about
twenty foot, in a place they call Oyster Bay, treatin'
a Yankee that I never laid eyes on before, and never
expect to ag'in. Day was a breakin' by the time I
got to the St. Nicholas hotel, and I pledge you my
word I didn't know my name. The man asked me
the number of my room, and I told him, < Hot music
on the half -shell for twoT I pintedly did."



THE EMPTY SLEEVE.



TOM, old fellow, I grieve to see
The sleeve hanging loose at your side
The arm you lost was worth to me

Every Yankee that ever died.
But you don't mind it at all ;

You swear you've a beautiful stump,
And laugh at that damnable ball ;
Tom, I knew you were always a trump.

A good right arm, a nervy hand,

A wrist as strong as a sappling oak,
Buried deep in the Malvern sand

To laugh at that is a sorry joke.
Never again your iron grip

Shall I feel in my shrinking palm
Tom, Tom, I see your trembling lip,

How on earth can I be calm?

Well, the arm is gone, it is true ;

But the one that is nearest the heart
Is left and that's as good as two ;

Tom, old fellow, what makes you start ?
Why, man, she thinks that empty sleeve

A badge of honor ; so do I,
And all of us I do believe

The fellow is going to cry !



400 THE EMPTY SLEEVE.

"She deserves a perfect man," you say;

"You not worth her in your prime?"
Tom ! the arm that has turn'd to clay

Your whole body has made sublime ;
For you have placed in the Malvern earth

The proof and pledge of a noble life
And the rest, henceforward of higher worth,

Will be dearer than all to your wife.

I see the people in the street

Look at your sleeve with kindling eyes ;
And you know, Tom, there's naught so sweet

As homage shown in mute surmise.
Bravely your arm in battle strove ;

Freely, for Freedom's sake, you gave it ;
It has perished but a nation's love

In proud remembrance will save it.

Go to your sweetheart, then, forthwith

You're a fool for staying so long ;
Woman's love you'll find no myth,

But a truth, living, tender and strong.
And when around her slender belt

Your left is clasped in fond embrace,
Your right will thrill as if it felt,

In its grave, the usurper's place.

As I look through the coming years,
I see a one-armed married man ;

A little woman, with smiles and tears,
Is helping as hard as she can

'To put on his coat, pin up his sleeve,
Tie his cravat and cut his food ;



THE EMPTY SLEEVE. 401

And I say, as these fancies I weave,

"That is Tom and the woman he wooed."

The years roll on, and then I see

A wedding picture bright and fair ;
I look closer, and it's plain to me

That is Tom with the silver hair.
He gives away the lovely bride,

And the guests linger, loth to leave
The house of him in whom they pride

"Brave old Tom with the empty sleeve."



AFTER APPOMATTOX.



"ON his way to Richmond, General Lee stopped for the night
near the residence of his brother, Mr. Carter Lee, of Powhatan
county ; and, although importuned by his brother to pass the
night under his roof, the General persisted in pitching his tent by
the side of the road, and going into camp as usual. " Taylor's
"Four Years with General Let," page 154.

UPON a hill-top, bold and free,
Ere that sad day is done,
The soldier form and face of Lee
Stand out against the sun.

The strong, grey head is carried high,

The firm hand grasps the rein ;
Earth nowhere holds such majesty,

And nowhere hides such pain.

A little onward now he rides,

For he alone would be ;
But something more than space divides

His staff from Eobert Lee.

Scarce can he tell the way he goes,

Scarce feels the April air;
Heap'd in his breast, his country's woes

Have filled him with despair.



AFTER APPOMATTOX. 403

The purple mountains fade behind,

Before him lies the sea ;
In all this world a fate unkind

Leaves home nor hope for Lee.

The rosy flush dies on the plain,

And dismal shadows start ;
What tumult in his riven brain,

What torture in his heart !

The bright'ning stars are naught to him,

Nor aught the sweet moonlight ;
His star has grown a-sudden dim

He nevermore shall fight.

His work seems done, his day seems spent;

What matters night or day !
He will betake him to his tent,

And, kneeling there, will pray.

The cries that upward went that night

Unto the great White Throne
The tears for guidance and for light

To God alone are known.

Sacred throughout all coming time,

Those sleepless hours shall be ;
For who can tell, in words sublime,

The agony of Lee ?



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Online LibraryGeorge William BagbySelections from the miscellaneous writings of Dr. George W. Bagby (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 27)