His comrades have enlisted, but his mother bids him stay,
His soul is sick with coward shame, his head hangs low to-day,
His eyes no longer sparkle, and his breast is void of pride
And I think that she has lost him though she’s kept him at her side.
Oh, I’m sorry for the mother, but I’m sorrier for the lad
Who must look on life forever as a hopeless dream and sad.
He must fancy men are sneering as they see him walk the street,
He will feel his cheeks turn crimson as his eyes another’s meet;
And the boys and girls that knew him as he was but yesterday,
Will not seem to smile upon him, in the old familiar way.
He will never blame his mother, but when he’s alone at night,
His thoughts will flock to tell him that he isn’t doing right.
Oh, I’m sorry for the mother from whose side a boy must go,
And the strong desire to keep him that she feels, I think I know,
But the boy that she’s so fond of has a life to live on earth,
And he hungers to be busy with the work that is of worth.
He will sicken and grow timid, he’ll be flesh without a heart
Until death at last shall claim him, if he doesn’t do his part.
Have you kept him, gentle mother? Has he lost his old-time cheer?
Is he silent, sad and sullen? Are his eyes no longer clear?
Is he growing weak and flabby who but yesterday was strong?
Then a secret grief he’s nursing and I’ll tell you what is wrong.
All his comrades have departed on their country’s noblest work,
And he hungers to be with them- it is not his wish to shirk.