Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
The Two Wives
William Dean Howells (1837–1920)
 
THE COLONEL rode by his picket-line
  In the pleasant morning sun,
That glanced from him far off to shine
  On the crouching rebel picket’s gun.
 
From his command the captain strode        5
  Out with a grave salute,
And talked with the colonel as he rode:—
  The picket levelled his piece to shoot.
 
The colonel rode and the captain walked,—
  The arm of the picket tired;        10
Their faces almost touched as they talked,
  And, swerved from his aim, the picket fired.
 
The captain fell at the horse’s feet,
  Wounded and hurt to death,
Calling upon a name that was sweet        15
  As God is good, with his dying breath.
 
And the colonel that leaped from his horse and knelt
  To close the eyes so dim,
A high remorse for God’s mercy felt,
  Knowing the shot was meant for him.        20
 
And he whispered, prayer-like, under his breath,
  The name of his own young wife:
For Love, that had made his friend’s peace with Death,
  Alone could make his with life.
 
 
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