Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

The Unseen Comrades

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Last night I saw an arm├Ęd band, whose feet
Did take the martial step, although they trod
Soundless as waves of light upon the air.
(Silent from silent lips the bugle fell.)
The wind was wild; but the great flag they bore,
Hung motionless, and glittered like a god
Above their awful faces while they marched.
And when I saw, I understood and said--
"If these are they whom we did love, and give,
What seek they?" But one sternly answered me,--
"We seek our comrades whom we left to thee:
The weak, who were thy strength; the poor, who had
Thy pride; the faint and few who gave to thee
One supreme hour from out the day of life,
One deed majestic to their century.
These were thy trust: how fare they at thy hands?
Thy saviors then--are they thy heroes now?
Our comrades still; we keep the step with them,
Behold! As thou unto the least of them
Shalt do, so dost thou unto us. Amen."

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Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward