Cleft from a rock by some new Thorwaldsen– The Private Soldier of Mahone’s Brigade.
His was that sense of duty only felt By souls heroic. In the modest shade
He lived, or fell; but his, Fame’s Starry Belt– His, Fame’s own Galaxy, Mahone’s Brigade.
And in that Belt–all luminous with stars, Unnamed and woven in a wondrous braid– A blaze of glory in the sky of Mars–
Your orbs are thickly set, Mahone’s Brigade.
The Private Soldier is the man who comes From mart, or plain, or grange, or sylvan glade, To answer calls of trumpets and of drums– So came the Soldier of Mahone’s Brigade.
His messmate, hunger; comrades, heat and cold; His decorations, death or wounds, conveyed To the brave patriot in ways manifold– But yet he flinched not in Mahone’s Brigade.
When needing bread, Fate gave him but a stone; Ragged, he answered when the trumpet brayed; Barefoot he marched, or died without a groan; True to his battle-flag, Mahone’s Brigade.
Could some Supreme Intelligence proclaim, Arise from all the pomp of rank and grade, War’s truest heroes, oft we’d hear some name, Unmentioned by the world, Mahone’s Brigade.
And yet they have a name, enriched with thanks And tears and homage–which shall never fade– Their name is simply this: Men of the Ranks– The Knights without their spurs–Mahone’s Brigade.
And though unbelted and without their spurs, To them is due Fame’s splendid accolade; And theirs the story which to-day still stirs The pulses of your heart, Mahone’s Brigade.
Men of the Ranks, step proudly to the front, ‘Twas yours unknown through sheeted flame to wade, In the red battle’s fierce and deadly brunt; Yours be full laurels in Mahone’s Brigade.
For those who fell be yours the sacred trust To see forgetfulness, shall not invade The spots made holy by their noble dust; Green keep them in your hearts, Mahone’s Brigade.
Oh, keep them green with patriotic tears! Forget not, now war’s fever is allayed, Those valiant men, who, in the vanished years, Kept step with you in ranks, Mahone’s Brigade.
Each circling year, in the sweet month of May, Your countrywomen–matron and fair maid– Still pay their tribute to the Soldier’s clay, And strew his grave with flow’rs, Mahone’s Brigade.
Join in the task, with retrospective eye; Men’s mem’ries should not perish ‘neath the spade; Pay homage to the dead, whose dying cry Was for the Commonwealth, Mahone’s Brigade.
Raise up, O State! a shaft to pierce the sky, To him, the Private, who was but afraid To fail in his full duty–not to die;
And on its base engrave, “Mahone’s Brigade.”
Now that the work of blood and tears is done, Whether of stern assault, or sudden raid, Yours is a record second yet to none–
None takes your right in line, Mahone’s Brigade.
Now that we’ve lost, as was fore-doomed, the day– Now that the good by ill has been outweighed– Let us plant olives on the rugged way,
Once proudly trodden by Mahone’s Brigade.
And when some far-stretchen future folds the past, To us so recent, in its purple shade,
High up, as if on some “tall Admiral’s mast,” Shall fly your battle-flags, Mahone’s Brigade.
Each battle-flag shall float abroad and fling A radiance round, as from a new-lit star; Or light the air about, as when a King
Flashes in armor in his royal car; And Fame’s own vestibule I see inlaid
With their proud images, Mahone’s Brigade.
Your battle-flags shall fly throughout all time, By History’s self exultingly unfurled; And stately prose, and loud-resounding rhyme, Nobler than mine, shall tell to all the world How dauntless moved, and how all undismayed, Through good and ill stood Mahone’s Brigade.
O glorious flags! No victory could stain Your tattered folds with one unworthy deed, O glorious flags! No country shall again Fly nobler symbols in its hour of need. Success stained not, nor could defeat degrade; Spotless they float to-day, Mahone’s Brigade.
Immortal flags, upon Time’s breezes flung, Seen by the mind in forests, or in marts, Cherished in visions, praised from tongue to tongue, Wrapped in the very fibres of your hearts, And gazing on them, none may dare upbraid Your Leader, or your men, Mahone’s Brigade.
That splendid Leader’s name is yours, and he Flesh of your flesh, himself bone of your bone, His simple name maketh a history,
Which stands, itself grand, glorious and alone, Or, ’tis a trophy, splendidly arrayed,
With all your battle-flags, Mahone’s Brigade.
His name itself a history? Yes, and none May halt me here. In war and peace
It challenges the full rays of the sun; And when the passions of our day shall cease, ‘Twill stand undying, for all time displayed, Itself a battle-flag, Mahone’s Brigade.
He rose successor of that mighty man Who was the “right arm”  of immortal Lee; Whose genius put defeat beneath a ban;
Who swept the field as tempest sweeps the sea; Who fought full hard, and yet full harder prayed. You knew that man full well, Mahone’s Brigade.
And here that great man’s shadow claims a place; Within my mind I see his image rise,
With Cromwell’s will and Havelock’s Christian grace; As daring as the Swede, as Frederick wise; Swift as Napoleon ere his hopes decayed; You knew the hero well, Mahone’s Brigade.
And when he fell his fall shook all the land, As falling oak shakes mountain side and glen; But soon men saw his good sword in the hand Of one, himself born leader among men,– Of him who led you through the fusilade, The storm of shot and shell, Mahone’s Brigade.
Immortal Lee, who triumphed o’er despair, Greater than all the heroes I have named. Whose life has made a Westminster where’er His name is spoken; he, so wise and famed, Gave Jackson’s duties unto him whose blade Was lightning to your storms, Mahone’s Brigade.
Ere Jackson fell Mahone shone day by day, A burnished lance amid that crop of spears,– None rose above him in that grand array; And Lee, who stood Last of the Cavaliers, Knew he had found of War’s stupendous trade, A Master at your head, Mahone’s Brigade.
O Countrymen! I see the coming days
When he, above all hinderances and lets Shall stand in Epic form, lit by the rays Of Fame’s eternal sun that never sets, The first great chapter of his life is made, And spoken in two words–“Mahone’s Brigade.”
O Countrymen! I see historic brass
Leap from the furnace in a blazing tide; I see it through strange transformations pass Into a form of energy and pride;
Beneath our Capitol’s majestic shade In bronze I see Mahone–Mahone’s Brigade.
O Countrymen! When dust has gone to dust. Still shall he live in story and in rhyme; Then History’s self shall multiply his bust, And he defy the silent Conqueror, Time. My song is sung: My prophecy is made–
The State will make it good, Mahone’s Brigade.
[Footnote 9: Recited at Norfolk Opera House, July 30, 1876, the twelfth anniversary of the Battle of the Crater, and second reunion of survivors of Mahone’s old brigade.]
[Footnote 10: Stonewall Jackson.]
THE PORTSMOUTH MEMORIAL POEM.
–THE FUTURE HISTORIAN.
Oh the women of Old Portsmouth in their patience were sublime, As in working and in praying they abided GOD’s own time! Marble saints in a stately Minster, in some land across the sea, In a flood of Winter moonlight were not half so pure to me! And your men in Grey were faithful! they were counted with the best! And where they fought no shadow fell on Old Virginia’s crest. Rags in cold, bare feet in marches never turned your children back; In retreat they loved the rearguard, in advance they loved attack!
Oh, my brothers! I see figures which all flit athwart my brain, Like the torches lit by lightning in some tempest-driven rain, And above the rushing vision, in my soul I hear the cry: “Those who fell for Home and Duty left us names that cannot die!” First, before the sleeping warriors, comes a gentle woman’s face, Every mark Time made upon it seemed to add a Christian grace. Sister of the soldier’s widow, mother of his orphan child, To us she seemed, indeed, as one on whom her GOD had smiled, Passed from our sight, sustained by CHRIST, she went upon her way, And be you sure, as I am, that her soul is here to-day!
Other names now blaze upon me, and they shine out one by one As the rays dart out a glitter from a shield hung in the sun. Fiske, and White, and brave Vermillion, fell on Malvern’s deadly slope, When the cause that they defended was a-glow with life and hope. Gallant Butt, and two Neimeyers you may boast in mood of pride, Types were they of valiant soldiers, and like soldiers true they died!
And Grimes, at bloody Sharpsburg, went down prone upon the field, And Hodges, under Pickett, took his last sleep on his shield. And Cowley, and Forrest, and Wilson, and Cocke on your Window still blaze,
And their names enrich its blazon in the evening’s golden haze. Dunderdale, and Beaton, and Bennett, and Bingley, and Armistead, and Gayle,
And Williams, the brave Color Sergeant, and Owens are men to bewail.
Last, not least, there comes the Seaman, valiant Cooke, my cherished friend,
Who was faithful to Virginia from beginning to the end; Had the theatre been given he had played a Nelson’s part, Or in Anson’s place had written his prodigious log and chart. Carolina–may GOD bless her!–gave that true man to the State, With a heart for any fortune and a soul for any fate. Seaman of the blue salt water! On our narrow streams you taught, Highest lessons of devotion in the battles that you fought.
Other names crowd fast upon me as stars thicken on the view, When the night comes down upon us, but I fix my gaze on two– As the “midland oak” of England is chief tree of all her trees– As the peak of Teneriffa is chief peak of all the seas– So our mighty Lee and Stonewall–greater names no era boasts– Shall exalt their Shades forever o’er the grand Confederate Hosts! ‘Twas not glory that they fought for through those weary years of pain
Though the glory fell upon them as it ne’er may fall again. That sentiment inspired them which lifts men to make them great, Love of hearthstone, friends, and neighbors, and devotion to the State. Not as rebels but as warriors they sent forth their famous cry– Not as traitors but as freemen they went forth to do or die!
Then give the dead your tears, oh, friends, upon this day of days, And let a solemn joy resound in all your words of praise! For honor still has claims on man, and duty still can call Above the sordid cares of life, the market and the stall. Yes, honor still has claims on man! Thank GOD that this is so! And there are heights of life where still all spotless lies the snow. Oh, better than lands and vast estates, or titles high and long The spirit of those whose deeds are fit to consecrate in Song! When Regulus to Carthage went, and went back to keep his word, His great action preached a homily which all mankind has heard. It gave to the sacred cause of truth an impulse which still lives, And left the world the moral which a grand example gives. Here, within a nutshell’s compass, the high argument appears Which the man who dies for duty in his dying moment cheers, And ’tis thus the Human Epic, acted out by all below, Takes a fuller pulse and cadence in its long-resounding flow.
In the future some historian shall come forth both strong and wise, With a love of the Republic, and the truth, before his eyes. He will show the subtle causes of the war between the States, He will go back in his studies far beyond our modern dates, He will trace out hostile ideas as the miner does the lodes, He will show the different habits born of different social codes, He will show the Union riven, and the picture will deplore, He will show it re-united and made stronger than before. Slow and patient, fair and truthful must the coming teacher be To show how the knife was sharpened that was ground to prune the tree. He will hold the Scales of Justice, he will measure praise and blame, And the South will stand the verdict, and will stand it without shame.
[Illustration: MONUMENT AT YORKTOWN, VIRGINIA.]
ARMS AND THE MAN.
A Metrical Address recited on the one hundredth anniversary of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown on invitation of a joint committee of the Senate and House of the United States Congress.
Full-burnished through the long-revolving years The ploughshare of a Century to-day
Runs peaceful furrows where a crop of Spears Once stood in War’s array.
And we, like those who on the Trojan plain See hoary secrets wrenched from upturned sods;– Who, in their fancy, hear resound again The battle-cry of gods;–
We now,–this splendid scene before us spread Where Freedom’s full hexameter began– Restore our Epic, which the Nations read As far its thunders ran.
Here visions throng on People and on Bard, Ranks all a-glitter in battalions massed And closed around as like a plumèd guard, They lead us down the Past.
I see great Shapes in vague confusion march Like giant shadows, moving vast and slow, Beneath some torch-lit temple’s mighty arch Where long processions go.
I see these Shapes before me, all unfold, But ne’er can fix them on the lofty wall, Nor tell them, save as she of Endor told What she beheld to Saul.
THE DEAD STATESMAN.
I see his Shape who should have led these ranks– GARFIELD I see whose presence had evoked The stormy rapture of a Nation’s thanks– His chariot stands unyoked!
Unyoked and empty, and the Charioteer To Fame’s expanded arms has headlong rushed Ending the glories of a grand career,
While all the world stood hushed.
The thunder of his wheels is done, but he Sustained by patience, fortitude, and grace– A Christian Hero–from the struggle free– Has won the Christian’s race!
His wheel-tracks stop not in the Valley cold But upward lead, and on, and up, and higher, Till Hope can realize and Faith behold
His chariot mount in fire!
Therefore, my Countrymen, lift up your hearts! Therefore, my Countrymen, be not cast down! He lives with those who well have done their parts, And God bestowed his crown!
And yet another form to-day I miss;– Grigsby the scholar, good, and pure, and wise, Who now, perchance, from scenes of perfect bliss Looks down with tender eyes.
Where his great friend, through life great Winthrop stands, Winthrop, whose gift, in life’s departing hours, Went to the dying Old Virginian’s hands Who died amid those flowers.
Prayers change to blooms, the ancient Rabbins taught; So his, then, seemed to blossom forth and glow, As if his supplicating soul had brought Sandalphon down below.
But, happily, that Winthrop stood to-day, The patriot, scholar, orator, and sage, To tell the meaning of this grand array And vindicate an Age.
That Era’s life and meaning his to teach, To him the parchments, but the shell to me, His voice the voice of billows on the beach Wherein we heard the sea.
My voice the voice of some sequestered stream Which only boasts, as on its waters glide, That, here and there, it shows a broken gleam Of pictures on its tide.
The fountain of our story spreads no clouds Of mist above it rich in varied glows, None paint us Gods and Goddesses in crowds Where some Scamander flows.
The tale of Jamestown, which I need not gild, With that of Plymouth, by the World is seen, But none, in visions, fancifully build
Olympus in between.
At Jamestown stood the Saxon’s home and graves, There Britain’s spray broke on the native rock, There rose the English tide with crested waves And overwhelming shock.
Virginia thence, stirred by a grand unrest, Swept o’er the waters, scaled the mountain’s crag, Hewed out a more than Roman roadway West, And planted there her flag.
Her fortune was forewritten even then– That fortune in the coming years to be “Mother of States and unpolluted men,”
And nurse of Liberty.
Then ’twas our coast all bore Virginia’s name; Next North Virginia took its separate place, And grew by slow degrees in wealth and fame And Freedom’s special grace.
[Footnote 11: Hugh Blair Grigsby, L.L.D., Chancellor of William and Mary College, and President of the Virginia Historical Society, Scholar and Historian, died on the day on which he received a gift of flowers from his life-long friend, Mr. Winthrop, and these literally gladdened the dying eyes of the noble gentleman whose loss will long be deplored by all who knew him, whether they live in Virginia or Massachusetts.]
THE NEW ENGLAND GROUP.
At Plymouth Rock a handful of brave souls, Full-armed in faith, erected home and shrine, And flourished where the wild Atlantic rolls Its pyramids of brine.
There rose a manly race austere and strong, On whom no lessons of their day were lost, Earnest as some conventicle’s deep song, And keen as their own frost.
But that shrewd frost became a friend to those Who fronted there the Ice-King’s bitter storm, For see we not that underneath the snows The growing wheat keeps warm?
Soft ease and silken opulence they spurned; From sands of silver, and from emerald boughs With golden ingots laden full, they turned Like Pilgrims under vows.
For them no tropic seas, no slumbrous calms, No rich abundance generously unrolled: In place of Cromwell’s proffered flow’rs and palms They chose the long-drawn cold.
The more it blew, the more they faced the gale; The more it snowed, the more they would not freeze; And when crops failed on sterile hill and vale– They went to reap the seas!
Far North, through wild and stormy brine they ran, With hands a-cold plucked Winter by the locks! Masterful mastered great Leviathan
And drove the foam as flocks!
Next in their order came the Middle Group, Perchance less hardy, but as brave they grew,– Grew straight and tall with not a bend, or stoop– Heart-timber through and through!
Midway between the ardent heat and cold They spread abroad, and by a homely spell, The iron of their axes changed to gold
As fast the forests fell!
Doing the things they found to do, we see That thus they drew a mighty empire’s charts, And, working for the present, took in fee The future for their marts!
And there unchallenged may the boast be made, Although they do not hold his sacred dust, That Penn, the Founder, never once betrayed The simple Indian’s trust.
To them the genius which linked Silver Lakes With the blue Ocean and the outer World, And the fair banner, which their commerce shakes, Wise Clinton’s hand unfurled.
THE SOUTHERN COLONIES.
Then sweeping down below Virginia’s Capes, From Chesapeake to where Savannah flows, We find the settlers laughing ‘mid their grapes And ignorant of snows.
The fragrant _uppowock_, and golden corn Spread far a-field by river and lagoon, And all the months poured out from Plenty’s Horn Were opulent as June.
Yet, they had tragedies all dark and fell! Lone Roanoke Island rises on the view, And this Peninsula its tale could tell
But, when the Ocean thunders on the shore Its waves, though broken, overflow the beach; So here our Fathers on and onward bore
With English laws and speech.
Kind skies above them, underfoot rich soils; Silence and Savage at their presence fled; This Giant’s Causeway, sacred through their toils, Resounded at their tread.
With ardent hearts, and ever-open hands, Candid and honest, brave and proud they grew, Their lives and habits colored by fair lands As skies give waters hue.
The race in semi-Feudal State appears– Their Knightly figures glow in tender mist, With ghostly pennons flung from ghostly spears And ghostly hawks on wrist.
By enterprise and high adventure stirred, From rude lunette and sentry-guarded croft They hawked at Empire, and, as on they spurred, Fate’s falcon soared aloft!
Fate’s falcon soared aloft full strong and free, With blood on talons, plumage, beak, and breast! Her shadow like a storm-shade on the sea Far-sailing down the West!
Swift hoofs clang out behind that Falcon’s flights– Hoofs shod with Golden Horse Shoes catch the eye! And as they ring, we see the Forest-Knights– The Cavaliers ride by!
THE OLD DOMINION.
Midway between the orange and the snows As some fair planet rounds up from the sea, Eldest of all, the Central Power arose
In vague immensity.
She stretched from Seas in sun to Lakes in Shade, O’erstepped swift _Rio Escondido’s_ stream– Her bounds expressed, as by the Tudor made, An Alexander’s dream.
And liberal Stuart granted broad and free Bound’ries which still the annalist may boast– Limits which ran “throughout from sea to sea,” And far along the coast!
A mighty shaft through Raleigh’s fingers slipped, Smith shot it, and–a Continent awoke! For that great arrow with an acorn tipped, Planted an English Oak!
THE OAKS AND THE TEMPEST.
Oaks multiplied apace, and o’er the seas Big rumors went in many a winding ring; And stories fabulous on every breeze
Swept to a distant King.
Full many a tale of wild romance, and myth, In large hyperbole the New World told, And down from days of Raleigh and of Smith The Colonies meant gold.
Not from Banchoonan’s mines came forth the ore, But from the waters, and the woods, and fields, Paid for in blood, but bringing more and more The wealth that labor yields.
Then seeing this, that King beyond the sea, The _jus divinum_ filling all his soul, Bethought him that he held these lands in fee And absolute control.
When this high claim in action was displayed With one accord the young Plantations spoke, And told him, English-like, they were not made To plough with such a yoke.
Thus met, not his to falter, or to flag, A sudden fury seized the Royal breast– Prometheus bound upon a Scythian crag
His policy expressed.
And, so, he ordered in those stormy hours His adamantine chains for one and all, Brute “Force” and soulless “Strength” the only Power On which he chose to call.
Great men withstood him many a weary day; In Press and Parliament full well they strove: But all in vain, for he was bound to play A travesty on Jove!
Then flamed the crater! And the flame took wing; Furious and far the lava blazed around, Until at last, on this same spot that King His Herculaneum found!
Breed’s Hill became Vesuvius, and its stream Rushed forth through years, a God-directed tide To light two Worlds and realize the dream For which brave Warren died.
THE EMBATTLED COLONIES.
Before this thought the present hour recedes, As from the beach a billow backward rolls, And the great past, rich in heroic deeds Illuminates our souls!
Stern Massachusetts Bay uplifts her form, Boston the tale of Lexington repeats,
With breast unarmored she confronts the storm– New England England meets.
I see the Middle Group by Fortune made The bloody Flanders of the Northern Coast, And, in a varying play of light and shade, Host thundering fall on host.
I see the Carolinas, Georgia, mowed
By War the Reaper, and grim Ruin stalk O’er wasted fields;–but Guilford paved the way That led to this same York.
Here, too, Virginia in the vision comes– Full-bent to crown the battle’s closing arch, Her pulses trumpets and her heart throbs drums, To animate her march.
As Pocahontas, in a by-gone time,
Leaped forth the wrath of Powhatan to brave, Virginia came, and here she stood sublime To perish, or to save.
I see her interposing now her frame
Between her sisters and the alien bands, And taking both of Freedom and of Fame
Full seisin with her hands.
WELCOME TO FRANCE.
But, in that fiery zone
She upriseth not alone,
Over all the bloody fields
Glitter Amazonian shields;
While through the mists of years
Another form appears,
And as I bow my head
Already you have said:–
Welcome to France!
From sea to sea,
With heart and hand!
Welcome to all within the land–
Thrice welcome let her be!
And to France
The Union here to-day
Gives the right of this array,
And folds her to her breast
As the friend that she loves best. Yes to France.
The proud Ruler of the West
Bows her sun-illumined crest,
Grave and slow,
In a passion of fond memories of
One hundred years ago!
France’s colors wave again
High above this tented plain,
Stream and flaunt, and blaze and shine, O’er the banner-painted brine,
Float and flow!
And the brazen trumpets blow
While upon her serried lines,
Full the light of Freedom shines
In a broad, effulgent glow.
And here this day I see
The fairest dream that ever yet
Was dreamt by History!
As in cadence, and in time,
To the martial throb and rhyme
Of her bugles and her drums
Forth a stately vision comes–
Comes majestically slow–
Comes a fair and stately vision of One hundred years ago!
Welcome to France!
From sea to sea,
With heart and hand!
Welcome to all within the land!
Thrice welcome let her be!
Of Freedom’s Guild made free!
Welcome let her be!
And as in days of old
Walter Raleigh did unfold
His gay cloak, with all its hems
Wrought in braided gold and gems,
That his Queen might passing tread On the sumptuous cloth outspread,
And step on the shining fold
Or fair samnite rich in gold.
So for France–
Splendid, grand, majestic France!– May Fortune down _her_ mantle throw
To mend the way that _she_ may go!
May GLORY leap before to reap–
Up to the shoulders turned her sleeves– And FAME behind follow to bind
Unnumbered honors in unnumbered sheaves! And may that mantle forever be
Under thy footfall, oh France the Free! Forever and forever!
THE ALLIES AT YORKTOWN.
And here France came one hundred years ago! Red, russet, purple glowed upon the trees, And sunset glories deepened in their glow Along the painted seas.
A wealth of color blazed on land and wave, Topaz and gold, and crimson met the eye– October hailed the ships which came to save With banners in the sky.
DeBarras swept down from the Northern coast, DeGrasse, foam-driving, came with favoring breeze, And here surprised the proud, marauding host Like spectres of the seas.
Then was no time for such a boastful strain As Campbell sang o’er Baltic’s bloody tide, Nor did Britannia dominate the main
In customary pride.
France closed this river, and France ruled yon sea, Held all our waters in triumphant state, Her sails foretelling what was soon to be Like Ministers of Fate.
And when the Union chants her proudest Lay DeGrasse is often on her tuneful lips, And his achievement challenges to-day
Some Homer of the ships.
So, when this spot its monument shall crown His name upon its base two Worlds shall see, With a fair wind his story shall sail down Through Ages yet to be,
THE RAVAGES OF WAR.
This on the water: on the land a scene Whose Epic scope is far beyond my power, For on this spot a People’s fate hath been Decided in an hour.
Long was the conflict waged through weary years Counted from when the sturdy farmers fell: Hopes crucified, red trenches, bitter tears, Made Man another hell!
See pallid women girt in woe and weeds! See little children gaunt for lack of food! Behold the catalogue of War’s black deeds Where evil stands for good!
See slaughtered cattle, never more to roam, Rot in the fields, while chimneys tall and bare Tell in dumb pathos how some quiet home Lit up the midnight air!
See that burnt crop, yon choked-up sylvan well, This yeoman slain ye corven in the sun! My GOD! shreds of a woman’s dress to tell Why murder there was done!
Such things as these gave edge to all the blows Our fathers struck on this historic sod, Feet, hands, and faces turned toward their foes– Their valiant hearts to GOD.
THE LINES AROUND YORKTOWN.
Troops late by Williamsburg’s brave palace walls, With trump and drum had marched down Glo’ster street, And some with throb of oars, and loud sea-calls Had landed from the fleet.
And well our leader had befooled his foes– Left them like archers blundering in the dark To draw against the empty space their bows, While here was their true mark.
Brave Lincoln on the right with kindling eye Smiles ‘mid the cares of grave command immersed, To see dramatic retribution nigh
And Charleston’s fate reversed!
The Light Troops stood upon the curved right flank, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay were there, Connecticut marched with them, rank on rank, And gallant Delaware.
There, too, Virginia’s sturdy yeomen stood, Led on by Nelson of the open hand,
As thick and stubborn as a living wood In some enchanted land.
Next came the steady Continental Line, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, breast to breast, Ready to tread the hot and smoking wine From War’s red clusters pressed.
New York and Pennsylvania on these plains Closed boldly in on the embattled town, Nor feared they threatened penalties and pains Of Parliament, or Crown.
And Maryland, the gay and gallant came, As always ready for the battle’s brunt; And here again Virginia faced the flame Along the deadly front.
THE FRENCH IN THE TRENCHES.
And as the allied hosts advance
All the left wing is given to France, Is given to France and–Fame!
Yes, these together always ride
The Dioscouroi of the tide
Where War plays out the game!
And that broad front ’tis her’s to hold With hand of iron, heart of gold
And helmet plumed with flame.
Across the river broad she sends
DeChoisy and Lauzun where ends
The leaguer far and wide,
While Weedon seconds as he may
The gallant Frenchmen in array
Upon the Gloucester side.
As waves hurled on a stranded keel
Make all the oaken timbers reel
With many a pond’rous blow,
So day by day, and night by night
The French like billows foaming white Thunder against the foe.
NELSON AND THE GUNNERS.
O’er town, and works, and waves amain Far fell grim Ruin’s furious rain,
O’er parapet and mast,
And riding on the thunder-swell
Far flew the shot, far flew the shell Red Havoc on the blast!
Then as the flashing cannon sowed
Their iron crop brave Nelson rode, His bridle bit all foam,
Up to the gunners, and said he:
“Batter yon mansion down for me”– “Basement, and walls, and dome!”
And better to sharpen those gunners’ wits, “Five guineas,” he cried, “for each shot that hits!”– That mansion was his home!
THE BELEAGUERED TOWN.
Behind the town the sun sinks down
Gilding the vane upon the spire,
While many a wall reels to its fall Beneath the fell artillery fire.
As sinks that sun mortar and gun
Like living things leap grim and hot, And far and wide across the tide
Spray-furrows show the flying shot.
White smoke in clouds yon earthwork shrouds Where, steeped in battle to the lips,
The French amain pour fiery rain
On town, and walls, and English ships.
That deadly sleet smites lines and fleet, As closes in the Autumn night,
And Aboville from head to heel
Thrills with the battle’s wild delight.
At every flash oak timbers crash–
A sudden glare yon frigate dyes!
Then flames up-gush, and roar, and rush, From deck to where her pennon flies!
Those flames on high crimson the sky And paint their signals overhead,
And every fold of smoke is rolled
And woven in Plutonian red.
All radiant now taffrail and prow,
And hull, and cordage, beams and spars, Thus lit she sails on fiery gales
To purple seas where float the stars.
Ages ago just such a glow
Woke Agamemnon’s house to joy,
Its red and gold to Argos told
The long-expected fate of Troy.
So, on these heights, that flame delights The Allies thundering at the wall,
Forewrit they see the land set free And Albion’s short-lived Ilium fall!
Then as the Lilies turn to red
Dipped in the battles’ wine
Another picture is outspread
Where still the figures shine–
The picture of a deadly fray
Worthy the pencil of Vernet!
STORMING THE REDOUBTS.
On the night air there floating comes, hoarse, war-like, low and deep, A sound as tho’ the dreaming drums were talking in their sleep.
“Fall in! Fall in!” The stormers form, in silence, stern and grim, Each heart full-beating out the time to Freedom’s battle hymn.–
“Charge! _en Avant_!”–The word goes forth and forth the stormers go, Each column like a mighty shaft shot from a mighty bow.
And tumult rose upon the night like sound of roaring seas, Mars drank of the Horn of Ulphus and he drained it to the lees!
Now by fair Freedom’s splendid dreams! it was a gallant sight To see the blows against the foes well struck that Autumn night!
Gimat, and Fish, and Hamilton, and Laurens pressed the foe, And Olney–brave Rhode Islander!–was there, alas! laid low.
Viominil, and Noallies, and Damas, stout and brave, Broke o’er the English right redoubt a steel-encrested wave.
St. Simon from his sick couch rose, wooed by the battle’s charms, And like a knight of old romance went to the shock of arms.
[But they who bore the muskets, who went charging thro’ the flame, Deserve far more than ever will be given them by Fame–
Then let us pour libations out!–full freely let them flow For the men who bore the muskets here a century ago!]
And, then, the columns won the works, and then uprose the cheers That have lasted us and ours for a good one hundred years!
And there were those amid the French filled with a rapture stern And long the cry resounded: “Live the Regiment of Auverne!”
Long live the Gallic Army and long live splendid France, The Power that gives to History the beauty of Romance!
Upon our right commanded one dearer by far than all, The hero who first came to us and came without a call;
Whose name with that of his leader all histories entwine, The one as is the mighty oak, the other as the vine;
The one the staff, the other the great banner on its lance– Now, need I name the dearest name of all the names of France?
Oh, Marquis brave! Upon this shaft, deep-cut thy cherished name Twin Old Mortalities shall find–fond Gratitude and Fame!
THE TWO LEADERS.
Two chieftains watch the battle’s tide and listen as it rolls And only HEAVEN above can tell the tumult of their souls!
Cornwallis saw the British power struck down by one fell blow, A Gallic spearhead on the lance that laid the Lion low.
But the Father of his Country saw the future all unrolled, Independence blazed before him written down in text of gold,
Like the Hebrew, on the mountain, looking forward then he saw The Promised Land of Freedom blooming under Freedom’s law;
Saw a great Republic spurring in the lists where Nations ride, The peer of any Power in her majesty and pride;
Saw that young Republic gazing through her helmet’s gilded bars Toward the West all luminous with th’ light of coming stars;
From Atlantic to Pacific saw her banners all unfurled Heard sonorous trumpets blowing blessèd Peace with all the world?
Roused from this glorious vision, with success within his reach, In few and simple words he made this long-resounding speech:
“The work is done, and well done:” thus spake he on this sod, In accents calm and measured as the accents of a God.
God, said I? Yes, his image rises on the raptured sight Like Baldur, the fair and blameless, the Goth’s God of the Light!
THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
As some spent gladiator, struck by Death, Whose reeling vision scarce a foe defines, For one last effort gathers all his breath, England draws in her lines.
Her blood-red flag floats out full fair, but flows O’er crumbling bastions, in fictitious state: Who stands a siege Cornwallis full well knows, Plays at a game with Fate.
Siege means surrender at the bitter end, From Ilium downward such the sword-made rule, With few exceptions, few indeed amend
This law in any school!
The student who for these has ever sought ‘Mid his exceptions Cæsar counts as one, Besieger and besieged he, victor, fought Under a Gallic sun.
For Vircinget’rex failed, but at the wall: He strove and failed gilded by Glory’s rays So that true soldiership describes that Gaul In terms of honest praise.
But there was not a Julius in the lines Round which our Chief the fatal leaguer drew, The noble Earl, though valiant, never shines ‘Mid War’s majestic few.
By hopes and fears in agonies long tossed– [Clinton hard fixed in method’s rigid groove] The British Leader saw the game was lost; But, still, it had one move!
Could he attain yon spreading Gloucester shore; Could he and his cross York’s majestic tide; He, then, might laugh to hear the cannon roar And far for safety ride.
Bold was the plan! and generous Light Horse Lee Gives it full measure of unstinted praise; But PROVIDENCE declared this should not be In its own wondrous ways.
Loud roared the storm! The rattling thunders rang! Against the blast his rowers could not row! White waves like hoary-headed Homers sang Hexameters of woe.
Then came the time to end the mighty Play, To drop the curtain and to quench the lamps, And soon the story took its jocund way
Through all the Allied camps.
“Measure for measure” then was righteous law, The cup of Lincoln, bowed Cornwallis pressed, And as he drank the wondering Nations saw A sunrise–in the West!
Death fell upon the Royal cause that day, The King stood like Swift’s oak with blighted crest, Headpiece and Crown both cleft he drooped away: _Hic jacet_–tells the rest!
And patriots stood where traitors late were jeered, Transformed from rebels into freemen bold, What seemed Membrino’s helmet _now_ appeared A real casque of gold!
THE SURRENDER OF LORD CORNWALLIS.
Next came the closing scene: but shall I paint The scarlet column, sullen, slow, and faint, Which marched, with “colors cased” to yonder field, Where Britain threw down corslet, sword and shield?
Shall I depict the anguish of the brave Who envied comrades sleeping in the grave? Shall I exult o’er inoffensive dust
Of valiant men whose swords have turned to rust? Shall I, like Menelaus by the coast,
O’er dead Ajaces make unmanly boast? Shall I, in chains of an ignoble Verse, Degrade dead Hectors, and their pangs rehearse– Nay! such is not the mood this People feels, Their chariots drag no foemen by the heels! Let Ajax slumber by the sounding sea
From the fell passion of his madness free! Let Hector’s ashes unmolested sleep–
But not to-day shall any Priam weep!
OUR ANCIENT ALLIES.
Superb in white and red, and white and gold, And white and violet, the French unfold Their blazoned banners on the Autumn air, While cymbols clash and brazen trumpets blare: Steeds fret and foam, and spurs with scabbards clank As far they form, in many a shining rank. Deux-Ponts is there, as hilt to sword blade true, And Guvion rises smiling on the view;
And the brave Swede, as yet untouched by Fate, Rides ‘mid his comrades with a mien elate; And Duportail–and scores of others glance Upon the scene, and all are worthy France! And for those Frenchmen and their splendid bands, The very Centuries shall clap their hands, While at their head, as all their banners flow, And all their drums roll out, and trumpets blow, Rides first and foremost splendid Rochambeau! And well he rides, worthy an epic rhyme– Full well he rides in attitude sublime– Fair Freedom’s Champion in the lists of Time.
In hunting shirts, or faded blue and buff, And many clad in simple, rustic stuff,
Their ensigns torn but held by Freedom’s hand, In long-drawn lines the Continentals stand. To them precision, if not martial grace; Each heart triumphant but composed each face; Well taught in military arts by brave Steuben, With port of soldiers, majesty of men,
All fathers of their Country like a wall They stand at rest to see the curtain fall. Well-taught were they by one who learned War’s trade From Frederick, whom not Ruin’s self dismayed;– Well-taught by one who never lost the heat Caught on an anvil where all Europe beat;– Beat in a storm of blows, with might and main, But on that Prussian anvil beat in vain! And to the gallant race of Steuben’s name That long has held close intercourse with Fame, This great Republic bows its lofty crest, And folds his kinsmen to her ample breast: At fray, or festival, on march or halt, Von Steuben always far above the salt!
The Brave young Marquis, second but to one For whom he felt the reverence of a son, Rides at the head of his division proud– A ray of Glory painted on the cloud!
Mad Anthony is there, and Knox–but why Great names like battle flags attempt to fly? Who sings of skies lit up by Jove and Mars Thinks not to chant a catalogue of stars! I bow me low, and bowing low I pass
Unnumbered heroes in unnumbered mass, While at their head in grave, and sober state, Rides one whom Time has found completely great Master of Fortune and the match of Fate!
* * * * *
Then Tilghman mounted on these Plains of York Swift sped away as speeds the homing hawk, And soon ’twas his to wake that watchman’s cry That woke all Nations and shall never die!
THE ANCIENT ENEMIES.
Brave was the foeman! well he held his ground! But here defeat at kindred hands he found! The shafts rained on him, in a righteous cause, Came from the quiver of Old England’s laws!
He fought in vain; and on this spot went down The _jus divinum_, and the kingly crown. But for those scenes Time long has made amends. The ancient enemies are present friends; Two swords, in Massachusetts, rich in dust, And, better still, the peacefulness of rust, Told the whole story in its double parts To one who lives in two great nations’ hearts; And late above Old England’s roar and din Slow-tolling bells spoke sympathy of kin: Victoria’s wreath blooms on the sleeping breast Of him just gone to his reward and rest, And firm and fast between two mighty Powers New treaties live in those undying flowers.
THE SPLENDID THREE.
Turned back my gaze, on Spain’s romantic shore I see Gaul bending by the grave of Moore, And later, when the page of Fame I scan I see brave France at deadly Inkerman,
While on red Balaklava’s field I hear Gallia’s applause swell Albion’s ringing cheer, England and France, as Allies, side by side Fought on the Pieho’s melancholy tide,
And there, brave Tattnall, ere the fight was done, Stirred English hearts as far as shone the sun, Or tides and billows in their courses run. That day, ‘mid the dark Pieho’s slaughter He said: “Blood is thicker than water!” And your true man though “brayed in a mortar” At feast, or at fray
Will still feel it and say
As he said: “Blood _is_ thicker than water!”
And full homely is the saying but this story always starts An answer from ten thousand times ten thousand kindred hearts.
Then let us pray that as the sun shines ever on the sea Fair Peace forevermore may smile upon the Splendid Three!
May happy France see purple grapes a-glow on all her hills, And England breast-deep in her corn laugh back the laugh of rills!
May this fair land to which all roads lead as the roads of Rome Led to th’ eternal city’s gates still offer Man a home–
A home of peace and plenty, and of freedom and of ease, With all before him where to choose between the shining seas!
May the war-cries of the Captains yield to happy reapers shouts, And the clover whiten bastions and the olive shade redoubts!
THE WAR HORSE DRAWS THE PLOUGH.
At last our Fathers saw the Treaty sealed, Victory unhelmed her broad, majestic brow, The Sword became a Sickle in the field, The war horse drew the plough.
There is a time when men shape for their Land Its institutions ‘mid some tempests’ roar, Just as the waves that thunder on the strand Shape out and round the shore.
Then comes a day when institutions turn And carve the men, or cast them into moulds; One Era trembles while volcanoes burn,
Another Age beholds
The hardened lava changed to hills and leas, With blooming glades and orchards intermixed, Vineyards which look abroad o’er purple seas, And deep foundations fixed.
So, when fell Chaos like a baleful Fate What we had won seemed bent to snatch away Sound thinkers rose who fashioned out the State As potters fashion clay.
HEROES AND STATESMEN.
Of their great names I may record but few; He who beholds the Ocean white with sails And copies each confuses all the view,
He paints too much–and fails.
His picture shows no high, emphatic light, Its shadows in full mass refuse to fall, And as its broken details meet the light Men turn it to the wall.
Of those great names but few may pass my lips, For he who speaks of Salamis then sees Not men who there commanded Grecian ships– But grand Themistocles!
Yet some I mark, and these discreetly take To grace my verse through duty and design, As one notes barks that leave the broadest wake Upon the stormy Brine.
These rise before me; and there Mason stands The Constitution-maker firm and bold,
Like Bernal Diaz, planting with kind hands Fair trees to blaze in gold.
Amid the lofty group sedate, I see
Great Franklin muse where Truth had locked her stores, Holding within his steady hand the key
That opened many doors.
And Trumbull, strong as hammered steel of old, Stands boldly out in clear and high relief,– A blade unbending worth a hilt of gold,– He never failed his Chief.
Then Robert Morris glides into my Verse Turning the very stones at need to bread– Filling the young Republic’s slender purse When Credit’s self seemed dead.
Tylers I see–sprung from the sturdy Wat– A strong-armed rebel of an ancient date, With Falkland-Carys come, to draw the lot Cast in the helm of Fate.
And Marshall in his ermine white as snow, Wise, learned and profound Fame loves to draw, His noble function on the Bench to show That Reason is the Law.
His sword unbuckled and his brows unbent, The gallant Hamilton again appears,
And in fair Freedom’s mighty Parliament He marches with the Peers!
Henry is there beneath his civic crown; He speaks in words that thunder as they flow, And as he speaks his thunder-tones bring down An avalanche below!
Nor does John Adams in the picture lag, He was as bold, as resolute, and free, As is the eagle on a misty crag
Above a stormy sea.
And ‘mid his fellows in those days of need, Impassioned Jefferson burns like a sun, The New World’s Prophet of the New World’s Creed– Prophet and Priest in one!
These two together stood in our great past, When Independence flamed across the land; On Independence Day these two at last
Departed hand in hand.
And they are taken by a patriot’s mind As kindred types of our great Saxon stock, And that same thinker hopes some day to find Both statues in one block.
But, here I number splendid names too fast, Heroes and Sages throng behind this group, And thick they come as came in Homer’s past A Goddess and her troop;
And as that troop, ‘mid frays and fell alarms, Swept, all a-glitter, on their mission bent, And bore from Vulcan the resplendent arms To great Achilles sent,
So came the names that light my pious Song– Came bearing Union forged in high debates– A sun-illuminated Shield, and strong,
To guard these mighty States.
The Shield sent to the son of Peleus glowed With hammered wonders, all without a flaw; The Shield of Union in its splendor showed The Compromise of Law.
And as the Epic lifts a form sublime For all the Ages on its plinth of gold, So does our Story, challenging all time, Its crowning shape uphold!
[Footnote 12: This fine idea is borrowed from one of the addresses of Mr. Winthrop, the orator of the occasion.]
Achilles came from Homer’s Jove-like brain, Pavilioned ‘mid his ships where Thetis trod; But he whose image dominates this plain Came from the hand of God!
Yet, of his life, which shall all time adorn I dare not sing; to try the theme would be To drink as ’twere that Scandinavian Horn Whose tip was in the Sea.
I bow my head and go upon my ways,
Who tells that story can but gild the gold– Could I pile Alps on Apennines of praise The tale would not be told.
Not his the blade which lyric fables say Cleft Pyrenees from ridge to nether bed, But his the sword which cleared the Sacred Way For Freedom’s feet to tread.
Not Caesar’s genius nor Napoleon’s skill Gave him proud mast’ry o’er the trembling earth; But great in honesty, and sense and will– He was the “man of worth.”
He knew not North, nor South, nor West, nor East: Childless himself, Father of States he stood, Strong and sagacious as a Knight turned Priest, And vowed to deeds of good.
Compared with all Earth’s heroes I may say He was, with even half his virtues hid, Greater in what his hand refrained than they Were great in what they did.
And thus his image dominates all time, Uplifted like the everlasting dome
Which rises in a miracle sublime
Above eternal Rome.
On Rome’s once blooming plain where’er we stray That dome majestic rises on the view, Its Cross a-glow with every wandering ray That shines along the Blue.
So his vast image shadows all the lands, So holds forever Man’s adoring eye,
And o’er the Union which he left it stands Our Cross against the sky!
THE FLAG OF THE REPUBLIC.
My harp soon ceases; but I here allege Its strings are in my heart and tremble there: My Song’s last strain shall be a claim and pledge– A claim, a pledge, a prayer!
I stand, as stood, in storied days of old, Vasco Balboa staring o’er bright seas
When fair Pacific’s tide of limpid gold Surged up against his knees.
For haughty Spain, her banner in his hand, He claimed a New World, sea, and plain, and crag– I claim the Future’s Ocean for this land And here I plant her flag!
Float out, oh flag, from Freedom’s burnished lance! Float out, oh flag, in Red, and White, and Blue! The Union’s colors and the hues of France Commingled on the view!
Float out, oh flag, and all thy splendors wake! Float out, oh flag, above our Hero’s bed! Float out, oh flag, and let thy blazon take New glories from the dead!
Float out, oh flag, o’er Freedom’s noblest types! Float out, oh flag, all free of blot or stain! Float out, oh flag, the “Roses” in thy stripes Forever blent again!
Float out, oh flag, and float in every clime! Float out, oh flag, and blaze on every sea! Float out, oh flag, and float as long as Time And Space themselves shall be!
Float out, oh flag, o’er Freedom’s onward march! Float out, oh flag, in Freedom’s starry sheen! Float out, oh flag, above the Union’s arch Where Washington is seen!
Float out, oh flag, above a smiling Land! Float out, oh flag, above a peaceful sod! Float out, oh flag, thy staff within the hand Beneficent of God!
THE SOUTH IN THE UNION.
An ancient Chronicle has told
That, in the famous days of old,
In Antioch under ground
The self-same lance was found–
Unbitten by corrosive rust–
The lance the Roman soldier thrust In CHRIST’S bare side upon the Tree;
And that it brought
A mighty spell
To those who fought
And mighty victory.
And so this day
To you I say–
Speaking for millions of true Southern men– In words that have no undertow–
I say, and say agen:
Come weal, or woe,
Should this Republic ever fight, By land, or sea,
For present law, or ancient right
The South will be
As was that lance,
Albeit not found
Hid under ground
But in the forefront of the first advance!
‘Twill fly a pennon fair
As ever kissed the air,
On it, for every glance,
Shall blaze majestic France
Blent with our Hero’s name
In everlasting flame,
And written, fair in gold,
This legend on its fold:
Give us back the ties of Yorktown! Perish all the modern hates!
Let us stand together, brothers,
In defiance of the Fates;
FOR THE SAFETY OF THE UNION
IS THE SAFETY OF THE STATES!
TO ALEXANDER GALT, THE SCULPTOR.
Alas! he’s cold!
Cold as the marble which his fingers wrought– Cold, but not dead; for each embodied thought Of his, which he from the Ideal brought To live in stone,
Assures him immortality of fame.
Galt is not dead!
Only too soon
We saw him climb
Up to his pedestal, where equal Time And coming generations, in the noon
Of his full reputation, yet shall stand To pay just homage to his noble name.
Our Poet of the Quarries only sleeps, He cleft his pathway up the future’s steeps, And now rests from his labors.
Hence ’tis I say;
For him there is no death,
Only the stopping of the pulse and breath– But simple breath is not the all in all; Man hath it but in common with the brutes– Life is in action and in brave pursuits! By what we dream, and having dreamt, dare do, We hold our places in the world’s large view, And still have part in the affairs of men When the long sleep is on us.
He dreamt and made his dreams perpetual things Fit for the rugged cell of penitential saints, Or sumptuous halls of Kings,
And showed himself a Poet in the Art: He chiselled Lyrics with a touch so fine, With such a tender beauty of their own, That rarest songs broke out from every line And verse was audible in voiceless stone! His Psyche, soft in beauty and in grace, Waits for her lover in the Western breeze, And a swift smile irradiates her face,
As though she heard him whisper in the trees.
His passion-stricken Sappho seems alive– Before her none can ever feel alone,
For on her face emotions so do strive That we forget she is but pallid stone; And all her tragedy of love and woe
Is told us in the chilly marble’s snow.
Bacchante, with her vine-crowned hair, Leaps to the cymbal-measured dance
With such a passion in her air–
Upon her brow–upon her lips–
As thrills you to the finger-tips, And fascinates your glance.
These are, as ’twere, three of his Songs in stone– The first full of the tenderness of love, Speaking of moon-rise, and the low wind’s call: The second of love’s tragedy and fall;
The third of shrill, mad laughter, and the tone Of festal music, on whose rise and fall Swift-footed dancers follow.
Nobler than these sweet lyric dreams, Dreamt out beside Italia’s streams,
He’d worked some Epic studies out, in part– To leave them incomplete his chiefest pain When the low pulses of his failing heart Admonished him of death.
Ay! he had soared upon a lofty wing, Wet with the purple and encrimsoned rain Of dreams, whose clouds had floated o’er his brain Until it ached with glories.
If you would see his Epic studies, go– Go with the student from his dim arcade– Halt where the Statesman standeth in the hall, And mark how careless voices hush and fall, And all light talk to sudden pause is brought In presence of the noble type of thought– Embodied Independence which he wrought
From stone of far Carrara.
View his Columbus: Hero grand and meek, Scarred ‘mid the battle’s long-protracted brunt– Palos and Salvador stamped on his front, With not a line about it, poor or weak– A second Atlas, bearing on his brow
A New World, just discovered.
Go see Virginia’s wise, majestic face With some faint shadow of her coming woe Writ on the broad, expansive, virgin snow Of her imperial forehead, just as though Some disembodied Prophet-hand of eld
The Sculptor’s chisel in its touch had held, Foreshadowing her coming crown of thorns– Her crown and her great glory!
These of the many; but they are enough– Enough to show that I have rightly said The marble’s snow bids back from him decay, He sleepeth long; but sleeps not with the dead Who die, and are forgotten ere the clay Heaped over them hath hardened in the sun.
This much of Galt, the Artist:
Of the man
Fain would I speak, but in sad sooth I can Ne’er find the words wherein to tell
How he was loved, or yet how well
He did deserve it.
All things of beauty were to him delight– The sunset’s clouds–the turret rent apart– The stars which glitter in the noon of night– Spoke in one voice unto his mind and heart, His love of Nature made his love of Art, And had his span
Of life been longer
He had surely done
Such noble things that he
Like to a soaring eagle would have been At last–lost in the sun!
TO THE POET-PRIEST RYAN.
_IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF A COPY OF HIS POEMS_.
Himself I read beneath the words he writes … I may come back and sing again.–RYAN.
This Bard’s to me a whole-souled man In honesty and might,
For when he sees Wrong in the van
He leaps like any Knight
To horse, and charging on the wrong Smites it with the great sword of Song.
Beneath the cassock of the Priest
There throbs another heart–
Another–but ’tis not the least–
Which in his Lays takes part,
So that ‘mid clash of Swords and Spears There is no lack of Pity’s tears.
This other heart is brave and soft,
As such hearts always are,
And plumes itself, a bird aloft,
When Morning’s gates unbar–
Till high it soars above the sod
Bathed in the very light of God.
Woman and Soldier, Priest and Man,
I find within these Lays,
And the closer still th’ Verse I scan The more I see to praise:
Some of these Lyrics shower down
The glories of the Cross and Crown.
To thee, oh Bard! my head I bow,
As I’d not to a King,
And my last word, writ here and now, Is not a little thing;
Recall the promise of thy strain– Thou art to “come and sing again!”
Virginia in her proud, Colonial days Boasts three great names which full of glory shine; Two glitter like the burnished heads of spears, the third in tender light is half divine. Turning that page my eager fancy hears
Trumpets and drums, and fleet on fleet appears.
Those names are graven deep and broad, to last And outlast Ages: while recording Time Hands down their story, worth an Epic Rhyme To light her future by her splendid past: One planned the Saxon’s Empire o’er these lands,– The other planted it with valiant hands– The third, with Mercy’s soft, celestial beams, Lights fair romances, histories and dreams.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH.
Whether in velvet white, slashed, and be-pearled, And rich in knots of clustering gems a-glow: Or, in his rusted armor, he unfurled
St. George’s Cross by Oronoko’s flow; He was a man to note right well as one
Who shot his arrows straightway at the sun.
Dark was his hair, his beard all crisp and curled. And narrow-lidded were his piercing eyes, Anhungered in their glances for a world That he might win by daring enterprise,– Explorer, soldier, scholar, poet, he
Not only wrote but acted historie!– And that great Captain, of our Saxon stock, Took his last slumber on the ghastly block!
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH.
A yeoman born, with patrimony small, He held the world at large as his estate; Found fit advices in the bugle’s call
And took his part in iron-tongued debate Where’er one sword another sword blade notched; Ne’er was he slain, though often he was scotched, Now down, now up, but always fronting fate.
At last a figure resolute, and grand In arms he leaped upon Virginia’s strand; Fitted in many schools his course to steer He knew the ax, the musketoon, and brand, How to obey, and better to command;
First of his line he stood–a planted spear The New World saw the English Pioneer!
Her story, sure, was fashioned out above, Ere ‘t was enacted on the scene below!
For ‘t was a very miracle of love
When from the savage hawk’s nest came the dove With wings of peace to stay the ordered blow– The hawk’s plumes bloody, but the dove’s as snow!
And here my heart oppressed by pleasant tears Yields to a young girl’s half angelic spell– Yes, for that maiden like a Saint appears; She needs no fresco, stone, nor shrine to tell Her story to the people of this Land–
Saint of the Wilderness, enthroned amid The wooded Minster where the Pagan hid!
SUNSET ON HAMPTON ROADS.
Behind me purplish lines marked out the town, Before me stretched the noble Roadstead’s tide: And there I saw the Evening sun go down Casting a parting glory far and wide–
As King who for the cowl puts off his crown– So went the sun: and left a wealth of light Ere hidden by the cloister-gates of Night.
Beholding this my soul was stilled in prayer, I understood how all men, save the blind, Might find religion in a scene so fair
And formulate a creed within the mind;– See prophesies in clouds; fates in the air; The skies flamed red; the murm’ring waves were hushed– “The conscious water saw its God and blushed.”
A KING’S GRATITUDE.
Plain men have fitful moods and so have Kings, For Kings are only men, and often made Of clay as common as e’er stained a spade. But when the great are moody, then, the strings Of gilded harps are smitten, and their strains Are soft and soothing as the Summer rains.
And Saul was taken by an evil mood,
He felt within himself his spirit faint: In vain he tossed upon his couch and wooed Refreshing slumbers. Sleep knows no constraint! Then David came: his physic and advice
All in a harp, and cleared the mind of Saul– And Saul thereafter launched his javelin twice To nail the harper to the palace wall!
“THE TWINSES.” 
Two little children toddled up to me, Their faces fair as faces well could be, Roses and snow, but pale the roses were Like flowers fainting for the lack of air. Sad was the tender study which I gave
The winning creatures, both so sweet and grave, Two beautiful young Saxons, scarce knee high! As like as peas! Two Lilliputian men!
Immortal ere they knew it by the pen Which waketh laughter or bedews the eye. God bless you, little people! May His hand Hold you within its hollow all your days! Smooth all the rugged places, and your ways Make long and pleasant in a fruitful land!
[Footnote 13: Children of his friend, Dr. George W. Bagby.]
Fools laugh at dreamers, and the dreamers smile In answer, if they any answer make:
They know that Saxon Alfred could not bake The oaten cakes, but that he snatched his Isle Back from the fierce and bloody-handed Dane.
And so, they leave the plodders to their gains– Quit money changing for the student’s lamp, And tune the harp to gain thereby some camp, Where what they learn is worth a kingdom’s crown; They fashion bows and arrows to bring down The mighty truths which sail the upper air; To them the facts which make the fools despair Become familiar, and a thousand things
Tell them the secrets they refuse to kings.
UNDER ONE BLANKET.
The sun went down in flame and smoke, The cold night passed without alarms,
And when the bitter morning broke
Our men stood to their arms.
But not a foe in front was found
After the long and stubborn fight. The enemy had left the ground
Where we had lain that night.
In hollows where the sun was lost
Unthawed still lay the shining snow, And on the rugged ground the frost
In slender spears did grow.
Close to us, where our final rush
Was made at closing in of day,
We saw, amid an awful hush,
The rigid shapes of clay:
Things, which but yesterday had life, And answered to the trumpet’s call,
Remained as victims of the strife, Clods of the Valley all!
Then, the grim detail marched away
A grave from the hard soil to wrench