VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night,
When you, my son and my comrade, dropped at my side that day.
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes returned with a look I shall
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reached up as you lay on the ground.
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle;
Till, late in the night relieved, to the place at last again I made my way;
Found you in death so cold, dear comrade--found your body, son of
responding kisses, (never again on earth responding;)
Bared your face in the starlight--curious the scene--cool blew the moderate
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battlefield
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent night.
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh--Long, long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side, leaning my chin in
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours, with you, dearest comrade--
Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love, and death--vigil for you, my son and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living--I think we shall surely
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appeared,
My comrade I wrapped in his blanket, enveloped well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head, and carefully
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in
his rude-dug grave, I deposited;
Ending my vigil strange with that--vigil of night and battlefield dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, never again on earth responding;
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget--how as day
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.