The Fire Within

He was born a gentleman;
And with quiet dignity his legacy he bore-
But no one could have guessed his heritage
Because of the filthy rags he wore.
His matted hair was infested with lice.
On his face a scraggly beard had grown.
Rags had taken the place of shoes on his feet.
Gone was the fine attire he'd worn at home.
He could no longer be called handsome
Because of his gaunt face and dark, haunted eyes.
His emaciated frame gave silent testimony of hunger.
Still, he swore that somehow he'd survive.
His condition attracted no attention;
For those around him all looked the same.
There were thousands more in that hellish place,
Still in tired defeated group they came.
Death was kept busy in that perverted place.
Taking many at a time with ease-
For they went willingly into his waiting hands
Wanting desperately their torment to cease.
He shook his fist at death in defiance,
As through gritting teeth he swore,
I'm going to live through this place of death
To see my home once more!
The days continued to pass with cruel slowness
Into his nights the nightmares did steal;
But the time finally came when he fulfilled his oath-
When he walked out of Andersonville.

by Jo Ann Burton

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