Margaret Junkin Preston

Only A Private

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Only a private -- and who will care
When I may pass away,
Or how, or why I perish, or where
I mix with the common clay?
They will fill my empty place again
With another as bold and brave;
And they'll blot me out ere the autumn rain
Has freshened my nameless grave.

Only a private -- it matters not
That I did my duty well,
That all through a score of battles I fought,
And then, like a soldier, I fell.
The country I died for will never heed
My unrequited claim;
And History cannot record the deed,
For she never has heard my name.

Only a private -- and yet I know
When I heard the rallying-call
I was one of the very first to go,
And . . . I'm one of the many who fall:
But as here I lie, it is sweet to feel
That my honor's without a stain, --
That I only fought for my country's weal,
And not for glory or gain.

Only a private -- yet He who reads
Through the guises of the heart,
Looks not at the splendor of the deeds,
But the way we do our part;
And when He shall take us by the hand,
And our small service own,
There'll a glorious band of privates stand
As victors around the throne!

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Margaret Junkin Preston