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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Sarah Williams (1837–1868)

At the Breach

ALL over for me,

The struggle, and possible glory!

All swept past,

In the rush of my own brigade.

Will charges instead,

And fills up my place in the story;

Well,—’tis well,

By the merry old games we played.

There’s a fellow asleep, the lout! in the shade of the hillock yonder;

What a dog it must be, to drowse in the midst of a time like this!

Why, the horses might neigh contempt at him;—what is he like, I wonder?

If the smoke would but clear away, I have strength in me yet to hiss.

Will, comrade and friend,

We parted in hurry of battle;

All I heard

Was your sonorous “Up, my men!”

Soon conquering pæans

Shall cover the cannonade’s rattle;

Then, home bells,—

Will you think of me sometimes, then?

How that rascal enjoys his snooze! Would he wake to the touch of powder?

A reveillé of broken bones, or a prick of the sword, might do.

Hi, man! the general wants you;—if I could but for once call louder!

There is something infectious here, for my eyelids are drooping too.

Will, can you recall

The time we were lost on the Bright Down?

Coming home late in the day,

As Susie was kneeling to pray,

Little blue eyes and white night-gown,

Saying, “Our Father, who art—

Art what?” so she stayed with a start.

“In Heaven,” your mother said softly.

And Susie sighed, “So far away!”

’Tis nearer, Will, now to us all.

’Tis strange how that fellow sleeps! stranger still that his sleep should haunt me;—

If I could but command his face, to make sure of the lesser ill!

I will crawl to his side and see, for what should there be to daunt me?

What there? what there? O Father in Heaven, not Will!

Will, dead Will!

Lying here, I could not feel you!

Will, brave Will!

Oh, alas for the noble end!

Will, dear Will!

Since no love nor remorse could heal you,

Will, good Will!

Let me die on your breast, old friend!