The Old Soldier's Return

I was but fifteen when I left my friends
For distant climes to fight our Country's foe,
And now I'm eighty — back for the first time
To see the home I left so long ago.

Where is the house? I should be near it now,
Yet possibly I may have gone astray;
Long years abroad have blurred the youthful brain,
I'll ask this countryman to point the way.

" The house is yonder — midst those grassy mounds,
Beneath the shade of fir and cypress trees,
And there lie buried all the kith and kin
Of former tillers of these fallow leas."

The veteran sighed and wandered to the house,
And found it overgrown and desolate;
A startled hare fled through the kennel's hole,
And pheasants flew from ceiling beams ornate.

Exhausted by the journey and his grief,
The old man plucked some grain from patches wild,
And mallows from around the courtyard well,
As in the days when but a little child.

But when the homely fare was cooked and spread,
And not a friend to cheer the lonely place,
He rose, and going out to eastward gazed,
While tears flowed down his worn and furrowed face.
Author of original: 
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