An Anonymous Poet Satirizes "Exempts," ca. 1862
From Chas. William Hubner, editor, War Poets of the South and Confederate Camp-Fire Songs. 1896. 178-79.
To Go or Not to Go.
To go or not to go, that is the question:
Whether is pays best to suffer pestering
By idle girls and garrulous old women,
Or to take up arms against a host of Yankees,
And by opposing get killed÷to die, to sleep÷
(Get out!) and in this sleep to day we "sink
To rest by all our country's wishes blest,"
And live forever (that's a consummation,
Just what I'm after). To march, to fight÷
To fight! Perchance to die÷aye, there's the rub!
For while I'm asleep who'd take care of Mary
And the babes÷when Bill is in the low ground÷
Who'd feed 'em, eh? There's the respect
I have for them that makes life sweet;
For who would bear the bag to mill,
Plow Dobbin, cut the wheat, dig "taters,"
Kill hogs, and do all sort of drudgery,
If I am fool enough to get a Yankee
Bullet in my brain! Who'd cry for me?
Would patriotism pay my debts, when dead?
But oh! The dread of something after death÷
That undiscovered fellow who'd court Mary,
And do my hugging÷that's agony,
And makes me want to stay at home,
'Specially as I ain't mad with nobody.
Shells and bullets make cowards of us all;
And blamed my skin if snortin' steeds,
And pomp and circumstance of war
Are to be compared with feather-bed,
And Mary by my side.
Houghton Mifflin Company