Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
III. War
The C. S. Army’s Commissary
Ed. Porter Thompson (1834–1903)
“WELL, this is bad!” we sighing said,
  While musing round the bivouac fire,
  And dwelling with a fond desire,
On home and comforts long since fled.
“How gayly came we forth at first!        5
  Our spirits high, with new emprise,
  Ambitious of each exercise,
And glowing with a martial thirst.
“Equipped as for a holiday,
  With bounteous store of everything        10
  To use or comfort minist’ring,
All cheerily we marched away.
“But as the struggle fiercer grew,
  Light marching orders came apace,—
  And baggage-wagon soon gave place        15
To that which sterner uses knew.
“Our tents—they went a year ago;
  Now kettle, spider, frying-pan
  Are lost to us, and as we can
We live, while marching to and fro.        20
“Our food has lessened, till at length,
  E’en want’s gaunt image seems to threat—
  A foe to whom the bravest yet
Must yield at last his knightly strength.
“But while we ’ve meat and flour enough        25
  The bayonet shall be our spit—
  The ramrod bake our dough on it—
A gum-cloth be our kneading trough.
“We ’ll bear privation, danger dare,
  While even these are left to us—        30
  Be hopeful, faithful, emulous
Of gallant deeds, though hard our fare!”
“Three years and more,” we grimly said,
  When order came to “Rest at will”
  Beside the corn-field on the hill,        35
As on a weary march we sped—
“Three years and more we ’ve met the foe
  On many a gory, hard-fought field,
  And still we swear we cannot yield
Till Fate shall bring some deeper woe.        40
“Three years and more we ’ve struggled on,
  Through torrid heat and winter’s chill,
  Nor bated aught of steadfast will,
Though even hope seems almost gone.
“Ill fed, ill clad, and shelterless,        45
  How little cheer in health we know!
  When wounds and illness lay us low,
How comfortless our sore distress!
“These flimsy rags, that scarcely hide
  Our forms, can naught discourage us;        50
  But Hunger—ah! it may be thus
That Fortune shall the strife decide.
“But while the corn-fields give supply
  We ’ll take, content, the roasting-ear,
  Nor yield us yet to craven fear,        55
But still press on, to do or die!”

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