Daily Whitman

Civil War Nurse

The Wound-Dresser

2
  O maidens and young men I love and that love me,
  What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,
  Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover'd with sweat and dust,
  In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the
      rush of successful charge,
  Enter the captur'd works—yet lo, like a swift-running river they fade,
  Pass and are gone they fade—I dwell not on soldiers' perils or
      soldiers' joys,
  (Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.)

  But in silence, in dreams' projections,
  While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
  So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
  With hinged knees returning I enter the doors, (while for you up there,
  Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart.)

  Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
  Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
  Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
  Where their priceless blood reddens the grass the ground,
  Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd hospital,
  To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
  To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
  An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
  Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill'd again.

  I onward go, I stop,
  With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,
  I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,
  One turns to me his appealing eyes—poor boy! I never knew you,
  Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that
      would save you.

 

Posted on 21/01/2015, in literature, poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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