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A Soldier’s Valentine

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

Just from the sentry’s tramp
  (I must take it again at ten),
I have laid my musket down,
  And seized instead my pen;
For, pacing my lonely round
  In the chilly twilight gray,
The thought, dear Mary, came,
  That this is St. Valentine’s Day.

And with the thought there came
  A glimpse of the happy time
When a school-boy’s first attempt
  I sent you, in borrowed rhyme,
On a gilt-edged sheet, embossed
  With many a quaint design,
And signed, in school-boy hand,
  “Your loving Valentine.”

The years have come and gone,–
  Have flown, I know not where, –
And the school-boy’s merry face
  Is grave with manhood’s care;
But the heart of the man still beats
  At the well-remembered name,
And on this St. Valentine’s Day
  His choice is still the same.

There was a time– ah, well!
  Think not that I repine
When I dreamed this happy day
  Would smile on you as mine;
But I heard my country’s call;
  I knew her need was sore.
Thank God, no selfish thought
  Withheld me from the war.

But when the dear old flag
  Shall float in its ancient pride,
When the twain shall be made one,
  And feuds no more divide,–
I will lay my musket down,
  My martial garb resign,
And turn my joyous feet
  Toward home and Valentine.

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