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Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War by Herman Melville

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Have trenched their scar; the plain
Tramped like the cindery beach of the damned--
A site for the city of Cain.
And stumps of forests for dreary leagues
Like a massacre show. The armies have lain
By fires where gums and balms did burn,
And the seeds of Summer's reign.

_Where are the birds and boys?
Who shall go chestnutting when
October returns? The nuts--
O, long ere they grow again._

They snug their huts with the chapel-pews,
In court-houses stable their steeds--
Kindle their fires with indentures and bonds,
And old Lord Fairfax's parchment deeds;
And Virginian gentlemen's libraries old--
Books which only the scholar heeds--
Are flung to his kennel. It is ravage and range,
And gardens are left to weeds.

_Turned adrift into war
Man runs wild on the plain,
Like the jennets let loose
On the Pampas--zebras again._

Like the Pleiads dim, see the tents through the storm--
Aloft by the hill-side hamlet's graves,
On a head-stone used for a hearth-stone there
The water is bubbling for punch for our braves.
What if the night be drear, and the blast
Ghostly shrieks? their rollicking staves
Make frolic the heart; beating time with their swords,
What care they if Winter raves?

_Is life but a dream? and so,
In the dream do men laugh aloud?
So strange seems mirth in a camp,
So like a white tent to a shroud._


The May-weed springs; and comes a Man
And mounts our Signal Hill;
A quiet Man, and plain in garb--
Briefly he looks his fill,
Then drops his gray eye on the ground,
Like a loaded mortar he is still:
Meekness and grimness meet in him--
The silent General.

_Were men but strong and wise,
Honest as Grant, and calm,
War would be left to the red and black ants,
And the happy world disarm._

That eve a stir was in the camps,
Forerunning quiet soon to come
Among the streets of beechen huts
No more to know the drum.
The weed shall choke the lowly door,
And foxes peer within the gloom,
Till scared perchange by Mosby's prowling men,
Who ride in the rear of doom.

_Far West, and farther South,
Wherever the sword has been,
Deserted camps are met,
And desert graves are seen._

The livelong night they ford the flood;
With guns held high they silent press,
Till shimmers the grass in their bayonets' sheen--
On Morning's banks their ranks they dress;
Then by the forests lightly wind,
Whose waving boughs the pennons seem to bless,
Borne by the cavalry scouting on--
Sounding the Wilderness.

_Like shoals of fish in spring
That visit Crusoe's isle,
The host in the lonesome place--
The hundred thousand file._

The foe that held his guarded hills
Must speed to woods afar;
For the scheme that was nursed by the Culpepper hearth
With the slowly-smoked cigar--
The scheme that smouldered through winter long
Now bursts into act--into waw--
The resolute scheme of a heart as calm
As the Cyclone's core.

_The fight for the city is fought
In Nature's old domain;
Man goes out to the wilds,
And Orpheus' charm is vain._

In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine-cones lay--the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled-up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan:
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged--
But the Year and the Man were gone.

_At the height of their madness
The night winds pause,
Recollecting themselves;
But no lull in these wars._

A gleam!--a volley! And who shall go
Storming the swarmers in jungles dread?
No cannon-ball answers, no proxies are sent--
They rush in the shrapnel's stead.
Plume and sash are vanities now--
Let them deck the pall of the dead;
They go where the shade is, perhaps into Hades,
Where the brave of all times have led.

_There's a dust of hurrying feet,
Bitten lips and bated breath,
And drums that challenge to the grave,
And faces fixed, forefeeling death._

What husky huzzahs in the hazy groves--
What flying encounters fell;
Pursuer and pursued like ghosts disappear
In gloomed shade--their end who shall tell?
The crippled, a ragged-barked stick for a crutch,
Limp to some elfin dell--
Hobble from the sight of dead faces--white
As pebbles in a well.

_Few burial rites shall be;
No priest with book and band
Shall come to the secret place
Of the corpse in the foeman's land._

Watch and fast, march and fight--clutch your gun?
Day-fights and night-fights; sore is the strees;
Look, through the pines what line comes on?
Longstreet slants through the hauntedness?
'Tis charge for charge, and shout for yell:
Such battles on battles oppress--
But Heaven lent strength, the Right strove well,
And emerged from the Wilderness.

_Emerged, for the way was won;
But the Pillar of Smoke that led
Was brand-like with ghosts that went up
Ashy and red._

None can narrate that strife in the pines,
A seal is on it--Sabaean lore!
Obscure as the wood, the entangled rhyme
But hints at the maze of war--
Vivid glimpses or livid through peopled gloom,
And fires which creep and char--
A riddle of death, of which the slain
Sole solvers are.

_Long they withhold the roll
Of the shroudless dead. It is right;
Not yet can we bear the flare
Of the funeral light._

On the Photograph of a Corps Commander.

Ay, man is manly. Here you see
The warrior-carriage of the head,
And brave dilation of the frame;
And lighting all, the soul that led
In Spottsylvania's charge to victory,
Which justifies his fame.

A cheering picture. It is good
To look upon a Chief like this,
In whom the spirit moulds the form.
Here favoring Nature, oft remiss,
With eagle mien expressive has endued
A man to kindle strains that warm.

Trace back his lineage, and his sires,
Yeoman or noble, you shall find
Enrolled with men of Agincourt,
Heroes who shared great Harry's mind.
Down to us come the knightly Norman fires,
And front the Templars bore.

Nothing can lift the heart of man
Like manhood in a fellow-man.
The thought of heaven's great King afar
But humbles us--too weak to scan;
But manly greatness men can span,
And feel the bonds that draw.

The Swamp Angel.[10]

There is a coal-black Angel
With a thick Afric lip,
And he dwells (like the hunted and harried)
In a swamp where the green frogs dip.
But his face is against a City
Which is over a bay of the sea,
And he breathes with a breath that is blastment,
And dooms by a far decree.

By night there is fear in the City,
Through the darkness a star soareth on;
There's a scream that screams up to the zenith,
Then the poise of a meteor lone--
Lighting far the pale f right of the fac es,
And downward the coming is seen;
Then the rush, and the burst, and the havoc,
And wails and shrieks between.

It comes like the thief in the gloaming;
It comes, and none may foretell
The place of the coming--the glaring;
They live in a sleepless spell
That wizens, and withers, and whitens;
It ages the young, and the bloom
Of the maiden is ashes of roses--
The Swamp Angel broods in his gloom.

Swift is his messengers' going,
But slowly he saps their halls,
As if by delay deluding.
They move from their crumbling walls
Farther and farther away;
But the Angel sends after and after,
By night with the flame of his ray--
By night with the voice of his screaming--
Sends after them, stone by stone,
And farther walls fall, farther portals,
And weed follows weed through the Town.

Is this the proud City? the scorner
Which never would yield the ground?
Which mocked at the coal-black Angel?
The cup of despair goes round.
Vainly she calls upon Michael
(The white man's seraph was he),
For Michael has fled from his tower
To the Angel over the sea.

Who weeps for the woeful City
Let him weep for our guilty kind;
Who joys at her wild despairing--
Christ, the Forgiver, convert his mind.

The Battle for the Bay.
(August, 1864.)

O mystery of noble hearts,
To whom mysterious seas have been
In midnight watches, lonely calm and storm,
A stern, sad disciple,
And rooted out the false and vain,
And chastened them to aptness for
Devotion and the deeds of war,
And death which smiles and cheers in spite of pain.

Beyond the bar the land-wind dies,
The prows becharmed at anchor swim:
A summer night; the stars withdrawn look down--
Fair eve of battle grim.
The sentries pace, bonetas glide;
Below, the sleeping sailor swing,
And it their dreams to quarters spring,
Or cheer their flag, or breast a stormy tide.

But drums are beat: _Up anchor all!_
The triple lines steam slowly on;
Day breaks, and through the sweep of decks each man
Stands coldly by his gun--
As cold as it. But he shall warm--
Warm with the solemn metal there,
And all its ordered fury share,
In attitude a gladiatorial form.

The Admiral--yielding the the love
Which held his life and ship so dear--
Sailed second in the long fleet's midmost line;
Yet thwarted all their care:
He lashed himself aloft, and shone
Star of the fight, with influence sent
Throughout the dusk embattlement;
And so they neared the strait and walls of stone.

No sprintly fife as in the field,
The decks were hushed like fanes in prayer;
Behind each man a holy angel stood--
He stood, though none was 'ware.
Out spake the forts on either hand,
Back speak the ships when spoken to,
And set their flags in concert true,
And _On and in!_ is Farragut's command.

But what delays? 'mid wounds above
Dim buoys give hint of death below--
Sea-ambuscades, where evil art had aped
Hecla that hides in snow.
The centre-van, entangled, trips;
The starboard leader holds straight on:
A cheer for the Tecumseh!--nay,
Before their eyes the turreted ship goes down!

The fire redoubles, While the fleet
Hangs dubious--ere the horror ran--
The Admiral rushes to his rightful place--
Well met! apt hour and man!--
Closes with peril, takes the lead,
His action is a stirring call;
He strikes his great heart through them all,
And is the genius of their daring deed.

The forts are daunted, slack their fire,
Confounded by the deadlier aim
And rapid broadsides of the speeding fleet,
And fierce denouncing flame.
Yet shots from four dark hulls embayed
Come raking through the loyal crews,
Whom now each dying mate endues
With his last look, anguished yet undismayed.

A flowering time to guilt is given,
And traitors have their glorying hour;
O late, but sure, the righteous Paramount comes--
Palsy is on their power!
So proved it with the rebel keels,
The strong-holds past: assailed, they run;
The Selma strikes, and the work is done:
The dropping anchor the achievement seals.

But no, she turns--the Tennessee!
The solid Ram of iron and oak,
Strong as Evil, and bold as Wrong, though lone--
A pestilence in her smoke.
The flag-ship is her singled mark,
The wooden Hartford. Let her come;
She challenges the planet of Doom,
And naught shall save her--not her iron bark.

_Slip anchor, all! and at her, all!_
_Bear down with rushing beaks--and_ now!
First the Monongahela struck--and reeled;
The Lackawana's prow
Next crashed--crashed, but not crashing; then
The Admiral rammed, and rasping nigh
Sloped in a broadside, which glanced by:
The Monitors battered at her adamant den.

The Chickasaw plunged beneath the stern
And pounded there; a huge wrought orb
From the Manhattan pierced one wall, but dropped;
Others the seas absorb.
Yet stormed on all sides, narrowed in,
Hampered and cramped, the bad one fought--
Spat ribald curses from the port
Who shutters, jammed, locked up this Man-of-Sin.

No pause or stay. They made a din
Like hammers round a boiler forged;
Now straining strength tangled itself with strength,
Till Hate her will disgorged.
The white flag showed, the fight was won--
Mad shouts went up that shook the Bay;
But pale on the scarred fleet's decks there lay
A silent man for every silenced gun.

And quiet far below the wave,
Where never cheers shall move their sleep,
Some who did boldly, nobly earn them, lie--
Charmed children of the deep.
But decks that now are in the seed,
And cannon yet within the mine,
Shall thrill the deeper, gun and pine,
Because of the Tecumseh's glorious deed.

Sheridan at Cedar Creek.
(October, 1864.)

Shoe the steed with silver
That bore him to the fray,
When he heard the guns at dawning--
Miles away;
When he heard them calling, calling--
Mount! nor stay:
Quick, or all is lost;
They've surprised and stormed the post,
They push your routed host--
Gallop! retrieve the day.

House the horse in ermine--
For the foam-flake blew
White through the red October;
He thundered into view;
They cheered him in the looming,
Horseman and horse they knew.
The turn of the tide began,
The rally of bugles ran,
He swung his hat in the van;
The electric hoof-spark flew.

Wreathe the steed and lead him--
For the charge he led
Touched and turned the cypress
Into amaranths for the head
Of Philip, king of riders,
Who raised them from the dead.
The camp (at dawning lost),
By eve, recovered--forced,
Rang with laughter of the host
At belated Early fled.

Shroud the horse in sable--
For the mounds they heap!
There is firing in the Valley,
And yet no strife they keep;
It is the parting volley,
It is the pathos deep.
There is glory for the brave
Who lead, and noblys ave,
But no knowledge in the grave
Where the nameless followers sleep.

In the Prison Pen.

Listless he eyes the palisades
And sentries in the glare;
'Tis barren as a pelican-beach--
But his world is ended there.

Nothing to do; and vacant hands
Bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think--to recollect,
But the blur is on his brain.

Around him swarm the plaining ghosts
Like those on Virgil's shore--
A wilderness of faces dim,
And pale ones gashed and hoar.

A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
He totters to his lair--
A den that sick hands dug in earth
Ere famine wasted there,

Or, dropping in his place, he swoons,
Walled in by throngs that press,
Till forth from the throngs they bear him dead--
Dead in his meagreness.

The College Colonel.

He rides at their head;
A crutch by his saddle just slants in view,
One slung arm is in splints, you see,
Yet he guides his strong steed--how coldly too.

He brings his regiment home--
Not as they filed two years before,
But a remnant half-tattered, and battered, and worn,
Like castaway sailors, who--stunned
By the surf's loud roar,
Their mates dragged back and seen no more--
Again and again breast the surge,
And at last crawl, spent, to shore.

A still rigidity and pale--
An Indian aloofness lones his brow;
He has lived a thousand years
Compressed in battle's pains and prayers,
Marches and watches slow.

There are welcoming shouts, and flags;
Old men off hat to the Boy,
Wreaths from gay balconies fall at his feet,
But to _him_--there comes alloy.

It is not that a leg is lost,
It is not that an arm is maimed.
It is not that the fever has racked--
Self he has long disclaimed.

But all through the Seven Day's Fight,
And deep in the wilderness grim,
And in the field-hospital tent,
And Petersburg crater, and dim
Lean brooding in Libby, there came--
Ah heaven!--what _truth_ to him.

The Eagle of the Blue.[12]

Aloft he guards the starry folds
Who is the brother of the star;
The bird whose joy is in the wind
Exultleth in the war.

No painted plume--a sober hue,
His beauty is his power;
That eager calm of gaze intent
Foresees the Sibyl's hour.

Austere, he crowns the swaying perch,
Flapped by the angry flag;
The hurricane from the battery sings,
But his claw has known the crag.

Amid the scream of shells, his scream
Runs shrilling; and the glare
Of eyes that brave the blinding sun
The vollied flame can bear.

The pride of quenchless strength is his--
Strength which, though chained, avails;
The very rebel looks and thrills--
The anchored Emblem hails.

Though scarred in many a furious fray,
No deadly hurt he knew;
Well may we think his years are charmed--
The Eagle of the Blue.

A Dirge for McPherson,[13]
Killed in front of Atlanta.
(July, 1864.)

Arms reversed and banners craped--
Muffled drums;
Snowy horses sable-draped--
McPherson comes.

_But, tell us, shall we know him more,
Lost-Mountain and lone Kenesaw?_

Brave the sword upon the pall--
A gleam in gloom;
So a bright name lighteth all
McPherson's doom.

Bear him through the chapel-door--
Let priest in stole
Pace before the warrior
Who led. Bell--toll!

Lay him down within the nave,
The Lesson read--
Man is noble, man is brave,
But man's--a weed.

Take him up again and wend
Graveward, nor weep:
There's a trumpet that shall rend
This Soldier's sleep.

Pass the ropes the coffin round,
And let descend;
Prayer and volley--let it sound
McPherson's end.

_True fame is his, for life is o'er--
Sarpedon of the mighty war._

At the Cannon's Mouth.
Destruction of the Ram Albermarle by the Torpedo-Launch.
(October, 1864.)

Palely intent, he urged his keel
Full on the guns, and touched the spring;
Himself involved in the bolt he drove
Timed with the armed hull's shot that stove
His shallop--die or do!
Into the flood his life he threw,
Yet lives--unscathed--a breathing thing
To marvel at.

He has his fame;
But that mad dash at death, how name?

Had Earth no charm to stay the Boy
From the martyr-passion? Could he dare
Disdain the Paradise of opening joy
Which beckons the fresh heart every where?
Life has more lures than any girl
For youth and strength; puts forth a share
Of beauty, hinting of yet rarer store;
And ever with unfathomable eyes,
Which baffingly entice,
Still strangely does Adonis draw.
And life once over, who shall tell the rest?
Life is, of all we know, God's best.
What imps these eagles then, that they
Fling disrespect on life by that proud way
In which they soar above our lower clay.

Pretense of wonderment and doubt unblest:
In Cushing's eager deed was shown
A spirit which brave poets own--
That scorn of life which earns life's crown;
Earns, but not always wins; but he--
The star ascended in his nativity.

The March to the Sea.
(December, 1864.)

Not Kenesaw high-arching,
Nor Allatoona's glen--
Though there the graves lie parching--
Stayed Sherman's miles of men;
From charred Atlanta marching
They launched the sword again.
The columns streamed like rivers
Which in their course agree,
And they streamed until their flashing
Met the flashing of the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
That marching to the sea.

The brushed the foe before them
(Shall gnats impede the bull?);
Their own good bridges bore them
Over swamps or torrents full,
And the grand pines waving o'er them
Bowed to axes keen and cool.
The columns grooved their channels.
Enforced their own decree,
And their power met nothing larger
Until it met the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
A marching glad and free.

Kilpatrick's snare of riders
In zigzags mazed the land,
Perplexed the pale Southsiders
With feints on every hand;
Vague menace awed the hiders
In forts beyond command.
To Sherman's shifting problem
No foeman knew the key;
But onward went the marching
Unpausing to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
The swinging step was free.

The flankers ranged like pigeons
In clouds through field or wood;
The flocks of all those regions,
The herds and horses good,
Poured in and swelled the legions,
For they caught the marching mood.
A volley ahead! They hear it;
And they hear the repartee:
Fighting was but frolic
In that marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
A marching bold and free.

All nature felt their coming,
The birds like couriers flew,
And the banners brightly blooming
The slaves by thousands drew,
And they marched beside the drumming,
And they joined the armies blue.
The cocks crowed from the cannon
(Pets named from Grant and Lee),
Plumed fighters and campaigners
In the marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
For every man was free.

The foragers through calm lands
Swept in tempest gay,
And they breathed the air of balm-lands
Where rolled savannas lay,
And they helped themselves from farm-lands--
As who should say them nay?
The regiments uproarious
Laughed in Plenty's glee;
And they marched till their broad laughter
Met the laughter of the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
That marching to the sea.

The grain of endless acres
Was threshed (as in the East)
By the trampling of the Takers,
Strong march of man and beast;
The flails of those earth-shakers
Left a famine where they ceased.
The arsenals were yielded;
The sword (that was to be),
Arrested in the forging,
Rued that marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
But ah, the stern decree!

For behind they left a wailing,
A terror and a ban,
And blazing cinders sailing,
And houseless households wan,
Wide zones of counties paling,
And towns where maniacs ran.
Was it Treason's retribution--
Necessity the plea?
They will long remember Sherman
And his streaming columns free--
They will long remember Sherman
Marching to the sea.

The Frenzy in the Wake.[14]
Sherman's advance through the Carolinas.
(February, 1865.)

So strong to suffer, shall we be
Weak to contend, and break
The sinews of the Oppressor's knee
That grinds upon the neck?
O, the garments rolled in blood
Scorch in cities wrapped in flame,
And the African--the imp!
He gibbers, imputing shame.

Shall Time, avenging every woe,
To us that joy allot
Which Israel thrilled when Sisera's brow
Showed gaunt and showed the clot?
Curse on their foreheads, cheeks, and eyes--
The Northern faces--true
To the flag we hate, the flag whose stars
Like planets strike us through.

From frozen Maine they come,
Far Minnesota too;
They come to a sun whose rays disown--
May it wither them as the dew!
The ghosts of our slain appeal:
"Vain shall our victories be"
But back from its ebb the flood recoils--
Back in a whelming sea.

With burning woods our skies are brass,
The pillars of dust are seen;
The live-long day their cavalry pass--
No crossing the road between.
We were sore deceived--an awful host!
They move like a roaring wind.
Have we gamed and lost? but even despair
Shall never our hate rescind.

The Fall of Richmond.
The tidings received in the Northern Metropolis.
(April, 1865.)

What mean these peals from every tower,
And crowds like seas that sway?
The cannon reply; they speak the heart
Of the People impassioned, and say--
A city in flags for a city in flames,
Richmond goes Babylon's way--
_Sing and pray._

O weary years and woeful wars,
And armies in the grave;
But hearts unquelled at last deter
The helmed dilated Lucifer--
Honor to Grant the brave,
Whose three stars now like Orion's rise
When wreck is on the wave--
_Bless his glaive._

Well that the faith we firmly kept,
And never our aim forswore
For the Terrors that trooped from each recess
When fainting we fought in the Wilderness,
And Hell made loud hurrah;
But God is in Heaven, and Grant in the Town,
And Right through might is Law--
_God's way adore._

The Surrender at Appomattox.
(April, 1865.)

As billows upon billows roll,
On victory victory breaks;
Ere yet seven days from Richmond's fall
And crowning triumph wakes
The loud joy-gun, whose thunders run
By sea-shore, streams, and lakes.
The hope and great event agree
In the sword that Grant received from Lee.

The warring eagles fold the wing,
But not in Caesar's sway;
Not Rome o'ercome by Roman arms we sing,
As on Pharsalia's day,
But Treason thrown, though a giant grown,
And Freedom's larger play.
All human tribes glad token see
In the close of the wars of Grant and Lee.

A Canticle:
Significant of the national exaltation of enthusiasm at
the close of the War.

O the precipice Titanic
Of the congregated Fall,
And the angle oceanic
Where the deepening thunders call--
And the Gorge so grim,
And the firmamental rim!
Multitudinously thronging
The waters all converge,
Then they sweep adown in sloping
Solidity of surge.

The Nation, in her impulse
Mysterious as the Tide,
In emotion like an ocean
Moves in power, not in pride;
And is deep in her devotion
As Humanity is wide.

Thou Lord of hosts victorious,
The confluence Thou hast twined;
By a wondrous way and glorious
A passage Thou dost find--
A passage Thou dost find:
Hosanna to the Lord of hosts,
The hosts of human kind.

Stable in its baselessness
When calm is in the air,
The Iris half in tracelessness
Hovers faintly fair.
Fitfully assailing it
A wind from heaven blows,
Shivering and paling it
To blankness of the snows;
While, incessant in renewal,
The Arch rekindled grows,
Till again the gem and jewel
Whirl in blinding overthrows--
Till, prevailing and transcending,
Lo, the Glory perfect there,
And the contest finds an ending,
For repose is in the air.

But the foamy Deep unsounded,
And the dim and dizzy ledge,
And the booming roar rebounded,
And the gull that skims the edge!
The Giant of the Pool
Heaves his forehead white as wool--
Toward the Iris every climbing
From the Cataracts that call--
Irremovable vast arras
Draping all the Wall.

The Generations pouring
From times of endless date,
In their going, in their flowing
Ever form the steadfast State;
And Humanity is growing
Toward the fullness of her fate.

Thou Lord of hosts victorious,
Fulfill the end designed;
By a wondrous way and glorious
A passage Thou dost find--
A passage Thou dost find:
Hosanna to the Lord of hosts,
The hosts of human kind.

The Martyr.
Indicative of the passion of the people on the 15th of
April, 1865.

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm--
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood--
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver--
The Avenger takes his place, [15]
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

"The Coming Storm:"
A Picture by S.R. Gifford, and owned by E.B.
Included in the N.A. Exhibition, April, 1865.

All feeling hearts must feel for him
Who felt this picture. Presage dim--
Dim inklings from the shadowy sphere
Fixed him and fascinated here.

A demon-cloud like the mountain one
Burst on a spirit as mild
As this urned lake, the home of shades.
But Shakspeare's pensive child

Never the lines had lightly scanned,
Steeped in fable, steeped in fate;
The Hamlet in his heart was 'ware,
Such hearts can antedate.

No utter surprise can come to him
Who reaches Shakspeare's core;
That which we seek and shun is there--
Man's final lore.

Rebel Color-bearers at Shiloh:[16]
A plea against the vindictive cry raised by civilians shortly
after the surrender at Appomattox.

The color-bearers facing death
White in the whirling sulphurous wreath,
Stand boldly out before the line
Right and left their glances go,
Proud of each other, glorying in their show;
Their battle-flags about them blow,
And fold them as in flame divine:
Such living robes are only seen
Round martyrs burning on the green--
And martyrs for the Wrong have been.

Perish their Cause! but mark the men--
Mark the planted statues, then
Draw trigger on them if you can.

The leader of a patriot-band
Even so could view rebels who so could stand;
And this when peril pressed him sore,
Left aidless in the shivered front of war--
Skulkers behind, defiant foes before,
And fighting with a broken brand.
The challenge in that courage rare--
Courage defenseless, proudly bare--
Never could tempt him; he could dare
Strike up the leveled rifle there.

Sunday at Shiloh, and the day
When Stonewall charged--McClellan's crimson May,
And Chickamauga's wave of death,
And of the Wilderness the cypress wreath--
All these have passed away.
The life in the veins of Treason lags,
Her daring color-bearers drop their flags,
And yield. _Now_ shall we fire?
Can poor spite be?
Shall nobleness in victory less aspire
Than in reverse? Spare Spleen her ire,
And think how Grant met Lee.

The Muster:[17]
Suggested by the Two Days' Review at Washington
(May, 1865.)

The Abrahamic river--
Patriarch of floods,
Calls the roll of all his streams
And watery mutitudes:
Torrent cries to torrent,
The rapids hail the fall;
With shouts the inland freshets
Gather to the call.

The quotas of the Nation,
Like the water-shed of waves,
Muster into union--
Eastern warriors, Western braves.

Martial strains are mingling,
Though distant far the bands,
And the wheeling of the squadrons
Is like surf upon the sands.

The bladed guns are gleaming--
Drift in lengthened trim,
Files on files for hazy miles--
Nebulously dim.

O Milky Way of armies--
Star rising after star,
New banners of the Commonwealths,
And eagles of the War.

The Abrahamic river
To sea-wide fullness fed,
Pouring from the thaw-lands
By the God of floods is led:
His deep enforcing current
The streams of ocean own,
And Europe's marge is evened
By rills from Kansas lone.

Commemorative of the Dissolution of Armies at the Peace.
(May, 1865.)

What power disbands the Northern Lights
After their steely play?
The lonely watcher feels an awe
Of Nature's sway,
As when appearing,
He marked their flashed uprearing
In the cold gloom--
Retreatings and advancings,
(Like dallyings of doom),
Transitions and enhancings,
And bloody ray.

The phantom-host has faded quite,
Splendor and Terror gone--
Portent or promise--and gives way
To pale, meek Dawn;
The coming, going,
Alike in wonder showing--
Alike the God,
Decreeing and commanding
The million blades that glowed,
The muster and disbanding--
Midnight and Morn.

The Released Rebel Prisoner.[18]
(June, 1865.)

Armies he's seen--the herds of war,
But never such swarms of men
As now in the Nineveh of the North--
How mad the Rebellion then!

And yet but dimly he divines
The depth of that deceit,
And superstition of vast pride
Humbled to such defeat.

Seductive shone the Chiefs in arms--
His steel the nearest magnet drew;
Wreathed with its kind, the Gulf-weed drives--
'Tis Nature's wrong they rue.

His face is hidden in his beard,
But his heart peers out at eye--
And such a heart! like mountain-pool
Where no man passes by.

He thinks of Hill--a brave soul gone;
And Ashby dead in pale disdain;
And Stuart with the Rupert-plume,
Whose blue eye never shall laugh again.

He hears the drum; he sees our boys
From his wasted fields return;
Ladies feast them on strawberries,
And even to kiss them yearn.

He marks them bronzed, in soldier-trim,
The rifle proudly borne;
They bear it for an heir-loom home,
And he--disarmed--jail-worn.

Home, home--his heart is full of it;
But home he never shall see,
Even should he stand upon the spot;
'Tis gone!--where his brothers be.

The cypress-moss from tree to tree
Hangs in his Southern land;
As weird, from thought to thought of his
Run memories hand in hand.

And so he lingers--lingers on
In the City of the Foe--
His cousins and his countrymen
Who see him listless go.

A Grave near Petersburg, Virginia.[19]

Head-board and foot-board duly placed--
Grassed in the mound between;
Daniel Drouth is the slumberer's name--
Long may his grave be green!

Quick was his way--a flash and a blow,
Full of his fire was he--
A fire of hell--'tis burnt out now--
Green may his grave long be!

May his grave be green, though he
Was a rebel of iron mould;
Many a true heart--true to the Cause,
Through the blaze of his wrath lies cold.

May his grave be green--still green
While happy years shall run;
May none come nigh to disinter
The--_Buried Gun_.

"Formerly a Slave."
An idealized Portrait, by E. Vedder, in the Spring
Exhibition of the National Academy, 1865.

The sufferance of her race is shown,
And retrospect of life,
Which now too late deliverance dawns upon;
Yet is she not at strife.

Her children's children they shall know
The good withheld from her;
And so her reverie takes prophetic cheer--
In spirit she sees the stir

Far down the depth of thousand years,
And marks the revel shine;
Her dusky face is lit with sober light,
Sibylline, yet benign.

The Apparition.
(A Retrospect.)

Convulsions came; and, where the field
Long slept in pastoral green,
A goblin-mountain was upheaved
(Sure the scared sense was all deceived),
Marl-glen and slag-ravine.

The unreserve of Ill was there,
The clinkers in her last retreat;
But, ere the eye could take it in,
Or mind could comprehension win,
It sunk!--and at our feet.

So, then, Solidity's a crust--
The core of fire below;
All may go well for many a year,
But who can think without a fear
Of horrors that happen so?

Magnanimity Baffled.

"Sharp words we had before the fight;
But--now the fight is done--
Look, here's my hand," said the Victor bold,
"Take it--an honest one!
What, holding back? I mean you well;
Though worsted, you strove stoutly, man;
The odds were great; I honor you;
Man honors man.

"Still silent, friend? can grudges be?
Yet am I held a foe?--
Turned to the wall, on his cot he lies--
Never I'll leave him so!
Brave one! I here implore your hand;
Dumb still? all fellowship fled?
Nay, then, I'll have this stubborn hand"
He snatched it--it was dead.

On the Slain Collegians.[20]

Youth is the time when hearts are large,
And stirring wars
Appeal to the spirit which appeals in turn
To the blade it draws.
If woman incite, and duty show
(Though made the mask of Cain),
Or whether it be Truth's sacred cause,
Who can aloof remain
That shares youth's ardor, uncooled by the snow
Of wisdom or sordid gain?

The liberal arts and nurture sweet
Which give his gentleness to man--
Train him to honor, lend him grace
Through bright examples meet--
That culture which makes never wan
With underminings deep, but holds
The surface still, its fitting place,
And so gives sunniness to the face
And bravery to the heart; what troops
Of generous boys in happiness thus bred--
Saturnians through life's Tempe led,
Went from the North and came from the South,
With golden mottoes in the mouth,
To lie down midway on a bloody bed.

Woe for the homes of the North,
And woe for the seats of the South;
All who felt life's spring in prime,
And were swept by the wind of their place and time--
All lavish hearts, on whichever side,
Of birth urbane or courage high,
Armed them for the stirring wars--
Armed them--some to die.
Apollo-like in pride,
Each would slay his Python--caught
The maxims in his temple taught--
Aflame with sympathies whose blaze
Perforce enwrapped him--social laws,
Friendship and kin, and by-gone days--
Vows, kisses--every heart unmoors,
And launches into the seas of wars.
What could they else--North or South?
Each went forth with blessings given
By priests and mothers in the name of Heaven;
And honor in both was chief.
Warred one for Right, and one for Wrong?
So be it; but they both were young--
Each grape to his cluster clung,
All their elegies are sung.

The anguish of maternal hearts
Must search for balm divine;
But well the striplings bore their fated parts
(The heavens all parts assign)--
Never felt life's care or cloy.
Each bloomed and died an unabated Boy;
Nor dreamed what death was--thought it mere
Sliding into some vernal sphere.
They knew the joy, but leaped the grief,
Like plants that flower ere comes the leaf--
Which storms lay low in kindly doom,
And kill them in their flush of bloom.



Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
I saw a Banner in gladsome air--
Starry, like Berenice's Hair--
Afloat in broadened bravery there;
With undulating long-drawn flow,
As rolled Brazilian billows go
Voluminously o'er the Line.
The Land reposed in peace below;
The children in their glee
Were folded to the exulting heart
Of young Maternity.


Later, and it streamed in fight
When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
Pale at the fury of her brood.


Yet later, and the silk did wind
Her fair cold form;
Little availed the shining shroud,
Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm.
A watcher looked upon her low, and said--
She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
But in that sleep contortion showed
The terror of the vision there--
A silent vision unavowed,
Revealing earth's foundation bare,
And Gorgon in her hidden place.
It was a thing of fear to see
So foul a dream upon so fair a face,
And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.


But from the trance she sudden broke--
The trance, or death into promoted life;
At her feet a shivered yoke,
And in her aspect turned to heaven
No trace of passion or of strife--
A clear calm look. It spake of pain,
But such as purifies from stain--
Sharp pangs that never come again--
And triumph repressed by knowledge meet,
Power dedicate, and hope grown wise,
And youth matured for age's seat--
Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
So she, with graver air and lifted flag;
While the shadow, chased by light,
Fled along the far-drawn height,
And left her on the crag.

Inscriptive and Memorial

On the Home Guards
who perished in the Defense of Lexington, Missouri.

The men who here in harness died
Fell not in vain, though in defeat.
They by their end well fortified
The Cause, and built retreat
(With memory of their valor tried)
For emulous hearts in many an after fray--
Hearts sore beset, which died at bay.

for Graves at Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Let none misgive we died amiss
When here we strove in furious fight:
Furious it was; nathless was this
Better than tranquil plight,
And tame surrender of the Cause
Hallowed by hearts and by the laws.
We here who warred for Man and Right,
The choice of warring never laid with us.
There we were ruled by the traitor's choice.
Nor long we stood to trim and poise,
But marched, and fell--victorious!

The Fortitude of the North
under the Disaster of the Second Manassas.

They take no shame for dark defeat
While prizing yet each victory won,
Who fight for the Right through all retreat,
Nor pause until their work is done.
The Cape-of-Storms is proof to every throe;
Vainly against that foreland beat
Wild winds aloft and wilder waves below:
The black cliffs gleam through rents in sleet
When the livid Antarctic storm-clouds glow.

On the Men of Maine
killed in the Victory of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Afar they fell. It was the zone
Of fig and orange, cane and lime
(A land how all unlike their own,
With the cold pine-grove overgrown),
But still their Country's clime.
And there in youth they died for her--
The Volunteers,
For her went up their dying prayers:
So vast the Nation, yet so strong the tie.
What doubt shall come, then, to deter
The Republic's earnest faith and courage high.

An Epitaph.

When Sunday tidings from the front
Made pale the priest and people,
And heavily the blessing went,
And bells were dumb in the steeple;
The Soldier's widow (summering sweerly here,
In shade by waving beeches lent)
Felt deep at heart her faith content,
And priest and people borrowed of her cheer.

for Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg.

To them who crossed the flood
And climbed the hill, with eyes
Upon the heavenly flag intent,
And through the deathful tumult went
Even unto death: to them this Stone--
Erect, where they were overthrown--
Of more than victory the monument.

The Mound by the Lake.

The grass shall never forget this grave.
When homeward footing it in the sun
After the weary ride by rail,
The stripling soldiers passed her door,
Wounded perchance, or wan and pale,
She left her household work undone--
Duly the wayside table spread,
With evergreens shaded, to regale
Each travel-spent and grateful one.
So warm her heart--childless--unwed,
Who like a mother comforted.

On the Slain at Chickamauga.

Happy are they and charmed in life
Who through long wars arrive unscarred
At peace. To such the wreath be given,
If they unfalteringly have striven--
In honor, as in limb, unmarred.
Let cheerful praise be rife,
And let them live their years at ease,
Musing on brothers who victorious died--
Loved mates whose memory shall ever please.

And yet mischance is honorable too--
Seeming defeat in conflict justified
Whose end to closing eyes is his from view.
The will, that never can relent--
The aim, survivor of the bafflement,
Make this memorial due.

An uninscribed Monument
on one of the Battle-fields of the Wilderness.

Silence and Solitude may hint
(Whose home is in yon piny wood)
What I, though tableted, could never tell--
The din which here befell,
And striving of the multitude.
The iron cones and spheres of death
Set round me in their rust,
These, too, if just,
Shall speak with more than animated breath.
Thou who beholdest, if thy thought,
Not narrowed down to personal cheer,
Take in the import of the quiet here--
The after-quiet--the calm full fraught;
Thou too wilt silent stand--
Silent as I, and lonesome as the land.

On Sherman's Men
who fell in the Assault of Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia.

They said that Fame her clarion dropped
Because great deeds were done no more--
That even Duty knew no shining ends,
And Glory--'twas a fallen star!
But battle can heroes and bards restore.
Nay, look at Kenesaw:
Perils the mailed ones never knew
Are lightly braved by the ragged coats of blue,
And gentler hearts are bared to deadlier war.

On the Grave
of a young Cavalry Officer killed in the Valley of Virginia.

Beauty and youth, with manners sweet, and friends--
Gold, yet a mind not unenriched had he
Whom here low violets veil from eyes.
But all these gifts transcended be:
His happier fortune in this mound you see.

A Requiem
for Soldiers lost in Ocean Transports.

When, after storms that woodlands rue,
To valleys comes atoning dawn,
The robins blithe their orchard-sports renew;
And meadow-larks, no more withdrawn,
Caroling fly in the languid blue;
The while, from many a hid recess,
Alert to partake the blessedness,
The pouring mites their airy dance pursue.
So, after ocean's ghastly gales,
When laughing light of hoyden morning breaks,
Every finny hider wakes--
From vaults profound swims up with glittering scales;
Through the delightsome sea he sails,
With shoals of shining tiny things
Frolic on every wave that flings
Against the prow its showery spray;
All creatures joying in the morn,
Save them forever from joyance torn,
Whose bark was lost where now the dolphins play;
Save them that by the fabled shore,
Down the pale stream are washed away,
Far to the reef of bones are borne;
And never revisits them the light,
Nor sight of long-sought land and pilot more;
Nor heed they now the lone bird's flight
Round the lone spar where mid-sea surges pour.

On a natural Monument
in a field of Georgia.[21]

No trophy this--a Stone unhewn,
And stands where here the field immures
The nameless brave whose palms are won.
Outcast they sleep; yet fame is nigh--
Pure fame of deeds, not doers;
Nor deeds of men who bleeding die
In cheer of hymns that round them float:
In happy dreams such close the eye.
But withering famine slowly wore,
And slowly fell disease did gloat.
Even Nature's self did aid deny;
They choked in horror the pensive sigh.
Yea, off from home sad Memory bore
(Though anguished Yearning heaved that way),
Lest wreck of reason might befall.
As men in gales shun the lee shore,
Though there the homestead be, and call,
And thitherward winds and waters sway--
As such lorn mariners, so fared they.
But naught shall now their peace molest.
Their fame is this: they did endure--
Endure, when fortitude was vain
To kindle any approving strain
Which they might hear. To these who rest,
This healing sleep alone was sure.

Commemorative of a Naval Victory.

Sailors there are of gentlest breed,
Yet strong, like every goodly thing;
The discipline of arms refines,
And the wave gives tempering.
The damasked blade its beam can fling;
It lends the last grave grace:
The hawk, the hound, and sworded nobleman
In Titian's picture for a king,
Are of Hunter or warrior race.

In social halls a favored guest
In years that follow victory won,
How sweet to feel your festal fame,
In woman's glance instinctive thrown:
Repose is yours--your deed is known,
It musks the amber wine;
It lives, and sheds a litle from storied days
Rich as October sunsets brown,
Which make the barren place to shine.

But seldom the laurel wreath is seen
Unmixed with pensive pansies dark;
There's a light and a shadow on every man
Who at last attains his lifted mark--
Nursing through night the ethereal spark.
Elate he never can be;
He feels that spirits which glad had hailed his worth,
Sleep in oblivion.--The shark
Glides white through the prosphorus sea.

Presentation to the Authorities,
by Privates, of Colors captured in Battles ending in the
Surrender of Lee.

These flags of armies overthrown--
Flags fallen beneath the sovereign one
In end foredoomed which closes war;
We here, the captors, lay before
The altar which of right claims all--
Our Country. And as freely we,
Revering ever her sacred call,
Could lay our lives down--though life be
Thrice loved and precious to the sense
Of such as reap the recompense
Of life imperiled for just cause--
Imperiled, and yet preserved;
While comrades, whom Duty as strongly nerved,
Whose wives were all as dear, lie low.
But these flags given, glad we go
To waiting homes with vindicated laws.

The Returned Volunteer to his Rifle.

Over the hearth--my father's seat--
Repose, to patriot-memory dear,
Thou tried companion, whom at last I greet
By steepy banks of Hudson here.
How oft I told thee of this scene--
The Highlands blue--the river's narrowing sheen.
Little at Gettysburg we thought
To find such haven; but God kept it green.
Long rest! with belt, and bayonet, and canteen.

The Scout toward Aldie.

The Scout toward Aldie.

The cavalry-camp lies on the slope
Of what was late a vernal hill,
But now like a pavement bare--
An outpost in the perilous wilds
Which ever are lone and still;
But Mosby's men are there--
Of Mosby best beware.

Great trees the troopers felled, and leaned
In antlered walls about their tents;
Strict watch they kept; 'twas _Hark!_ and _Mark!_
Unarmed none cared to stir abroad
For berries beyond their forest-fence:
As glides in seas the shark,
Rides Mosby through green dark.

All spake of him, but few had seen
Except the maimed ones or the low;
Yet rumor made him every thing--
A farmer--woodman--refugee--
The man who crossed the field but now;
A spell about his life did cling--
Who to the ground shall Mosby bring?

The morning-bugles lonely play,
Lonely the evening-bugle calls--
Unanswered voices in the wild;
The settled hush of birds in nest
Becharms, and all the wood enthralls:
Memory's self is so beguiled
That Mosby seems a satyr's child.

They lived as in the Eerie Land--
The fire-flies showed with fairy gleam;
And yet from pine-tops one might ken
The Capitol dome--hazy--sublime--
A vision breaking on a dream:
So strange it was that Mosby's men
Should dare to prowl where the Dome was seen.

A scout toward Aldie broke the spell.--
The Leader lies before his tent
Gazing at heaven's all-cheering lamp
Through blandness of a morning rare;
His thoughts on bitter-sweets are bent:
His sunny bride is in the camp--
But Mosby--graves are beds of damp!

The trumpet calls; he goes within;
But none the prayer and sob may know:
Her hero he, but bridegroom too.
Ah, love in a tent is a queenly thing,
And fame, be sure, refines the vow;
But fame fond wives have lived to rue,
And Mosby's men fell deeds can do.

_Tan-tara! tan-tara! tan-tara!_
Mounted and armed he sits a king;
For pride she smiles if now she peep--
Elate he rides at the head of his men;
He is young, and command is a boyish thing:
They file out into the forest deep--
Do Mosby and his rangers sleep?

The sun is gold, and the world is green,
Opal the vapors of morning roll;
The champing horses lightly prance--
Full of caprice, and the riders too
Curving in many a caricole.
But marshaled soon, by fours advance--
Mosby had checked that airy dance.

By the hospital-tent the cripples stand--
Bandage, and crutch, and cane, and sling,
And palely eye the brave array;
The froth of the cup is gone for them
(Caw! caw! the crows through the blueness wing);
Yet these were late as bold, as gay;
But Mosby--a clip, and grass is hay.

How strong they feel on their horses free,
Tingles the tendoned thigh with life;
Their cavalry-jackets make boys of all--
With golden breasts like the oriole;
The chat, the jest, and laugh are rife.
But word is passed from the front--a call
For order; the wood is Mosby's hall.

To which behest one rider sly
(Spurred, but unarmed) gave little heed--
Of dexterous fun not slow or spare,
He teased his neighbors of touchy mood,
Into plungings he pricked his steed:
A black-eyed man on a coal-black mare,
Alive as Mosby in mountain air.

His limbs were long, and large and round;
He whispered, winked--did all but shout:
A healthy man for the sick to view;
The taste in his mouth was sweet at morn;
Little of care he cared about.
And yet of pains and pangs he knew--
In others, maimed by Mosby's crew.

The Hospital Steward--even he
(Sacred in person as a priest),
And on his coat-sleeve broidered nice
Wore the caduceus, black and green.
No wonder he sat so light on his beast;
This cheery man in suit of price
Not even Mosby dared to slice.

They pass the picket by the pine
And hollow log--a lonesome place;
His horse adroop, and pistol clean;
'Tis cocked--kept leveled toward the wood;
Strained vigilance ages his childish face.
Since midnight has that stripling been
Peering for Mosby through the green.

Splashing they cross the freshet-flood,
And up the muddy bank they strain;
A horse at the spectral white-ash shies--
One of the span of the ambulance,
Black as a hearse. They give the rein:
Silent speed on a scout were wise,
Could cunning baffle Mosby's spies.

Rumor had come that a band was lodged
In green retreats of hills that peer
By Aldie (famed for the swordless charge[22]).
Much store they'd heaped of captured arms
And, peradventure, pilfered cheer;
For Mosby's lads oft hearts enlarge
In revelry by some gorge's marge.

"Don't let your sabres rattle and ring;
To his oat-bag let each man give heed--
There now, that fellow's bag's untied,
Sowing the road with the precious grain.
Your carbines swing at hand--you need!
Look to yourselves, and your nags beside,
Men who after Mosby ride."

Picked lads and keen went sharp before--
A guard, though scarce against surprise;
And rearmost rode an answering troop,
But flankers none to right or left.
No bugle peals, no pennon flies:
Silent they sweep, and fail would swoop
On Mosby with an Indian whoop.

On, right on through the forest land,
Nor man, nor maid, nor child was seen--
Not even a dog. The air was still;
The blackened hut they turned to see,
And spied charred benches on the green;
A squirrel sprang from the rotting mill
Whence Mosby sallied late, brave blood to spill.

By worn-out fields they cantered on--
Drear fields amid the woodlands wide;
By cross-roads of some olden time,
In which grew groves; by gate-stones down--
Grassed ruins of secluded pride:
A strange lone land, long past the prime,
Fit land for Mosby or for crime.

The brook in the dell they pass. One peers
Between the leaves: "Ay, there's the place--
There, on the oozy ledge--'twas there
We found the body (Blake's you know);
Such whirlings, gurglings round the face--
Shot drinking! Well, in war all's fair--
So Mosby says. The bough--take care!"

Hard by, a chapel. Flower-pot mould
Danked and decayed the shaded roof;
The porch was punk; the clapboards spanned
With ruffled lichens gray or green;
Red coral-moss was not aloof;
And mid dry leaves green dead-man's-hand
Groped toward that chapel in Mosby-land.

They leave the road and take the wood,
And mark the trace of ridges there--
A wood where once had slept the farm--
A wood where once tobacco grew
Drowsily in the hazy air,
And wrought in all kind things a calm--
Such influence, Mosby! bids disarm.

To ease even yet the place did woo--
To ease which pines unstirring share,
For ease the weary horses sighed:
Halting, and slackening girths, they feed,
Their pipes they light, they loiter there;
Then up, and urging still the Guide,
On, and after Mosby ride.

This Guide in frowzy coat of brown,
And beard of ancient growth and mould,
Bestrode a bony steed and strong,
As suited well with bulk he bore--
A wheezy man with depth of hold
Who jouncing went. A staff he swung--
A wight whom Mosby's wasp had stung.

Burnt out and homeless--hunted long!
That wheeze he caught in autumn-wood
Crouching (a fat man) for his life,
And spied his lean son 'mong the crew
That probed the covert. Ah! black blood
Was his 'gainst even child and wife--
Fast friends to Mosby. Such the strife.

A lad, unhorsed by sliding girths,
Strains hard to readjust his seat
Ere the main body show the gap
'Twixt them and the read-guard; scrub-oaks near
He sidelong eyes, while hands move fleet;
Then mounts and spurs. One drop his cap--
"Let Mosby fine!" nor heeds mishap.

A gable time-stained peeps through trees:
"You mind the fight in the haunted house?
That's it; we clenched them in the room--
An ambuscade of ghosts, we thought,
But proved sly rebels on a house!
Luke lies in the yard." The chimneys loom:
Some muse on Mosby--some on doom.

Less nimbly now through brakes they wind,
And ford wild creeks where men have drowned;
They skirt the pool, a void the fen,
And so till night, when down they lie,
They steeds still saddled, in wooded ground:
Rein in hand they slumber then,
Dreaming of Mosby's cedarn den.

But Colonel and Major friendly sat
Where boughs deformed low made a seat.
The Young Man talked (all sworded and spurred)
Of the partisan's blade he longed to win,
And frays in which he meant to beat.
The grizzled Major smoked, and heard:
"But what's that--Mosby?" "No, a bird."

A contrast here like sire and son,
Hope and Experience sage did meet;
The Youth was brave, the Senior too;
But through the Seven Days one had served,
And gasped with the rear-guard in retreat:
So he smoked and smoked, and the wreath he blew--
"Any _sure_ news of Mosby's crew?"

He smoked and smoked, eying the while
A huge tree hydra-like in growth--

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