Return of the Boys of '18
The fine returning hosts go by,
The bugles of the morning play
Their serenades into the sky.
The taut drums beat the reveille -
But oh, through moments packed and dim
I stand apart, with downcast air,
And only see through sorrow grim
The figure of my boy, who is not there.
Bright banners deck the laughing streets,
And throngs on crowded sidewalks wait.
The day is fie, the air is sweet.
As the hosts march by, so tall and straight.
But with them, I see moving all the while,
A dim shadow that will never come
With that sweet accustomed manly smile,
To the summons of the sounding drum.
And this is all that I can see -
His mother apart, on the throng's bright rim.
But oh! how much I'd give
If only I could go out there to him.
Could kneel for one moment by that cross
Amid the poppies where he lies
So close to Flanders mud and moss
With God's sweet slumber on his eyes.
The pomp and splendor of the day,
The glory of the great parade.
Shall come and go and pass away,
Shall from the moment's memory fade.
But not the picture of the pale
The frequent phantom everywhere.
The ghost of Loose's hill and vale
The ghost of my boy who was not there.
Nancy Jane Wiley Hill (1875-1960) was always writing something. Many of those poems are now in the possession of her granddaughter Shirley Kern. Shirley, with the help of her sister-in-law Ruth Ormsby, transcribed these poems in 1996 for a Hill-Ormsby-Kern family reunion. I am going to post many of these poems so that they may be enjoyed by all.
These are copyright 1996 and reprinted with permission.