You Put No Flowers on My Papa’s Grave by C.E.L. Holmes

With sable-draped banners and slow measured tread,
The flower laden ranks pass the gates of the dead;
And seeking each mound where a comrade’s form rests
Leave tear-bedewed garlands to bloom, on his breast.
Ended at last is the labor of love;
Once more through the gateway the saddened lines move—
A wailing of anguish, a sobbing of grief,
Falls low on the ear of the battle-scarred chief;
Close crouched by the portals, a sunny-haired child
Besought him in accents with grief rendered wild:

“Oh! sir, he was good, and they say he died brave—
Why, why, did you pass by my dear papa’s grave?
I know he was poor, but as kind and as true
As ever marched into the battle with you;
His grave is so humble, no stone marks the spot,
You may not have seen it. Oh, say you did not!
For my poor heart will break if you knew he was there,
And thought him too lowly your offerings to share.
He didn’t die lowly—he poured his heart’s blood
In rich crimson streams, from the top-crowning sod
Of the breastworks which stood in front of the fight—
And died shouting, ‘Onward! for God and the right!’
O’er all his dead comrades your bright garlands wave,
But you haven’t put one on my papa’s grave.
If mamma were here—but she lies by his side,
Her wearied heart broke when our dear papa died!”

“Battalion! file left! countermarch!” cried the chief,
“This young orphaned maid hath full cause for her grief.”
Then up in his arms from the hot, dusty street,
He lifted the maiden, while in through the gate
The long line repasses, and many an eye
Pays fresh tribute of tears to the lone orphan’s sigh.
“This way, it is—here, sir, right under this tree;
They lie close together, with just room for me.”
“Halt! Cover with roses each lowly green mound;
A love pure as this makes these graves hallowed ground.”

“Oh! thank you, kind sir! I ne’er can repay
The kindness you’ve shown little Daisy to-day;
But I’ll pray for you here, each day while I live,
‘Tis all that a poor soldier’s orphan can give.
I shall see papa soon and dear mamma, too—
I dreamed so last night, and I know ’twill come true;
And they will both bless you, I know, when I say
How you folded your arms round their dear one to-day;
How you cheered her sad heart and soothed it to rest,
And hushed its wild throbs on your strong, noble breast;
And when the kind angels shall call you to come
We’ll welcome you there to our beautiful home
Where death never comes his black banners to wave,
And the beautiful flowers ne’er weep o’er a grave.”