"NO letter!" poor mother! oh, well may'st
For thy noble and manly first-born
Is now sleeping peacefully death's dreamless sleep;
He shall never again see the morn.
"No letter!" and yet from his pocket they took,
When they searched there to find out his name,
A missive unfinished in his Holy Book,
All hopeful of glory and fame.
"In battle today our flag I'll uphold,
And defend, though I lose my right arm;
I am young, I have strength, and with courage
With my life, I will shield it from harm.
"I must go, dear mother! I hear the drums call,
And I will write more on the morrow."
Alas! ere that day closed, the enemy's ball
To that mother bequeathed ceaseless sorrow.
No letter! and sadly the wife turned away,
And crushed in her heart the great pain,
As God gave her patience, while day after day
She sought for the letter in vain.
"No letter!" your children are fatherless now;
Bow in meekness to God's stern decree,
Your husband, with laurel wreaths twined round
Is at rest in the land of the free.
"No letter!" sweet maiden, your lover so brave,
To his heart clasped your image and fell;
Said he gloried to fill a poor soldier's gave,
For the country he loved so well.
To leave you alone was his only regret,
In this sad world of sorrow and sin;
But your grief he was hopeful you soon would
And sighing for what might have been.
"No letter!" dear sister, your brother is dead;
Alas! he was shot in the battle;
No sister's hand near to hold his cold head,
With no one to hear the death-rattle.
Only those who have writhed 'neath the heart-
And who live upon hope's brittle thread,
Can know the sad trial, with which life is fraught,
Brings the longing to be with the dead.