A Poem for Memorial Day: "Soldier, Maiden, and Flower" by Eugene Field

With Memorial Day tomorrow, I thought this poem by Eugene Field was well suited to the moment. Copyright: es75 / 123RF Stock Photo

Photo credit: es75 / 123RF Stock Photo

"Sweetheart, take this," a soldier said,
"And bid me brave good-by;
It may befall we ne'er shall wed,
But love can never die.
Be steadfast in thy troth to me,
And then, whate'er my lot,
'My soul to God, my heart to thee,'--
Sweetheart, forget me not!"

The maiden took the tiny flower
And nursed it with her tears:
Lo! he who left her in that hour
Came not in after years.
Unto a hero's death he rode
'Mid shower of fire and shot;
But in the maiden's heart abode
The flower, forget-me-not.

And when he came not with the rest
From out the years of blood,
Closely unto her widowed breast
She pressed a faded bud;
Oh, there is love and there is pain,
And there is peace, God wot,--
And these dear three do live again
In sweet forget-me-not.

'T is to an unmarked grave to-day
That I should love to go,--
Whether he wore the blue or gray,
What need that we should know?
"He loved a woman," let us say,
And on that sacred spot,
To woman's love, that lives for aye,
We'll strew forget-me-not.

A Memorial Poem for Sunday: "Not to Keep" by Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came Saying… And she could have him. And before She could be sure there was no hidden ill Under the formal writing, he was in her sight, Living. They gave him back to her alive— How else? They are not known to send the dead— And not disfigured visibly. His face? His hands? She had to look, and ask, “What was it, dear?” And she had given all And still she had all—they had—they the lucky! Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won, And all the rest for them permissible ease. She had to ask, “What was it, dear?” “Enough, Yet not enough. A bullet through and through, High in the breast. Nothing but what good care And medicine and rest, and you a week, Can cure me of to go again.” The same Grim giving to do over for them both. She dared no more than ask him with her eyes How was it with him for a second trial. And with his eyes he asked her not to ask. They had given him back to her, but not to keep.