Drafted by Mrs. H. L. Bostwick

The opening stanzas of this poem should be recited in an agitated, broken voice, as though the fond mother could not fully realize the fact of her boy being drafted:—in the end the voice changes to a firmer and gentler tone, as a spirit of resignation fills the mother's heart:


  MY son! What! Drafted? My Harry! Why, man, 'tis a boy at his books;

No taller, I'm sure, than your Annie—as delicate, too, in his looks.

Why, it seems but a day since he helped me girl-like, in my kitchen at tasks;

He drafted! Great God, can it be that our President knows what he asks?

He never could wrestle, this boy, though in spirit as brave as the best;

Narrow-chested, a little, you notice, like him who has long been at rest.

Too slender for over much study—why, his master has made him to-day

Go out with his ball on the common—and you have drafted a child at his play!

"Not a patriot?" Fie! Did I wimper when Robert stood up with his gun,

And the hero-blood chafed in his forehead, the evening we heard of Bull Run?

Pointing his finger at Harry, but turning his eyes to the wall,

"There's a staff growing up for your age, mother," said Robert, "if I am to fall."

"Eighteen?" Oh I know! And yet narrowly; just a wee babe on the day

When his father got up from a sick-bed and cast his last ballot for Clay.

Proud of his boy and his ticket, said he, "A new morsel of fame

We'll lay on the candidate's altar"—and christened the child with his name.

Oh, what have I done, a weak woman, in what have I meddled with harm,

(Troubling only my God for the sunshine and rain on my rough little farm,)

That my ploughshares are beaten to swords, and whetted before my eyes,

That my tears must cleanse a foul nation, my lamb be a sacrifice?

Oh, 'tis true there's a country to save, man, and 'tis true there is no appeal,

But did God see my boy's name lying the uppermost one in the wheel?

Five stalwart sons has my neighbour, and never the lot upon one;

Are these things Fortune's caprices, or is it God's will that is done?

Are the others too precious for resting where Robert is taking his rest,

With the pictured face of young Annie lying over the rent in his breast?

Too tender for parting with sweet hearts? Too fair to be crippled or scarred?

My boy! Thank God for these tears—I was growing so bitter and hard!

*            *            *            *            *            *            *            *

Now read me a page in the Book, Harry, that goes in your knapsack to-night,

Of the eye that sees when the sparrow grows weary and falters in flight;

Talk of something that's nobler than living, of a Love that is higher than mine,

And faith which has planted its banner where the heavenly camp-fires shine.

Talk of something that watches us softly, as the shadows glide down in the yard;

That shall go with my soldier to battle, and stand with my picket on guard.

Spirits of loving and lost ones—watch softly with Harry to-night,

For to-morrow he goes forth to battle—to arm him for Freedom and Right!