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The World's Best Poetry, Volume 8 by Various

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It was a Sergeant old and gray,
Well singed and bronzed from siege and pillage,
Went tramping in an army's wake
Along the turnpike of the village.

For days and nights the winding host
Had through the little place been marching,
And ever loud the rustics cheered,
Till every throat was hoarse and parching.

The Squire and Farmer, maid and dame,
All took the sight's electric stirring,
And hats were waved and staves were sung,
And kerchiefs white were countless whirring.

They only saw a gallant show
Of heroes stalwart under banners,
And, in the fierce heroic glow,
'Twas theirs to yield but wild hosannas.

The Sergeant heard the shrill hurrahs,
Where he behind in step was keeping;
But glancing down beside the road
He saw a little maid sit weeping.

"And how is this?" he gruffly said,
A moment pausing to regard her;--
"Why weepest thou, my little chit?"
And then she only cried the harder.

"And how is this, my little chit?"
The sturdy trooper straight repeated,
"When all the village cheers us on,
That you, in tears, apart are seated?

"We march two hundred thousand strong,
And that's a sight, my baby beauty,
To quicken silence into song
And glorify the soldier's duty."

"It's very, very grand, I know,"
The little maid gave soft replying;
"And Father, Mother, Brother too,
All say 'Hurrah' while I am crying;

"But think--O Mr. Soldier, think,--
How many little sisters' brothers
Are going all away to fight
And may be _killed_, as well as others!"

"Why, bless thee, child," the Sergeant said,
His brawny hand her curls caressing,
"'Tis left for little ones like thee
To find that War's not all a blessing."

And "Bless thee!" once again he cried;
Then cleared his throat and looked indignant,
And marched away with wrinkled brow
To stop the struggling tear benignaut.

And still the ringing shouts went up
From doorway, thatch, and fields of tillage;
The pall behind the standard seen
By one alone of all the village.

The oak and cedar bend and writhe
When roars the wind through gap and braken;
But 'tis the tenderest reed of all
That trembles first when Earth is shaken.


* * * * *


[June 15, 1815.]


There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

Did ye not hear it?--No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street;
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet,--
But hark!--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! arm! it is--it is--the cannon's opening roar!

Within a windowed niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deemed it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretched his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell:
He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.

Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated: who would guess
If evermore should meet those mutual eyes
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!

And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering with white lips,--"The foe! they come! they come!"

And wild and high the "Cameron's gathering" rose,
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard,--and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instills
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's fame, rings in each clansman's ears!

And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,--alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valor, rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.

Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,--the day
Battle's magnificently stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,--friend, foe,--in one red burial blent!

Their praise is hymned by loftier harps than mine;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong,
And partly that bright names will hallow song!
And his was of the bravest, and when showered
The death-bolts deadliest the thinned files along,
Even where the thickest of war's tempest lowered,
They reached no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!

There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing,
I turned from all she brought to those she could not bring.

I turned to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel's trump, not glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honored but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.

They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn:
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruined wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone;
The bars survive the captive they enthrall;
The day drags through though storms keep out the sun;
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on;

Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies, and makes
A thousand images of one that was
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.


* * * * *


[September 20, 1854,]

Willie, fold your little hands;
Let it drop,--that "soldier" toy;
Look where father's picture stands,--
Father, that here kissed his boy
Not a mouth since,--father kind,
Who this night may (never mind
Mother's sob, my Willie dear)
Cry out loud that He may hear
Who is God of battles,--cry,
"God keep father safe this day
By the Alma River!"

Ask no more, child. Never heed
Either Russ, or Frank, or Turk;
Right of nations, trampled creed,
Chance-poised victory's bloody work;
Any flag i' the wind may roll
On thy heights, Sevastopol!
Willie, all to you and me
Is that spot, whate'er it be,
Where he stands--no other word--
_Stands_--God sure the child's prayers heard--
Near the Alma River.

Willie, listen to the bells
Ringing in the town to-day;
That's for victory. No knell swells
For the many swept away,--
Hundreds, thousands. Let us weep,
We, who need not,--just to keep
Reason clear in thought and brain
Till the morning comes again;
Till the third dread morning tell
Who they were that fought and--_fell_
By the Alma River.

Come, we'll lay us down, my child;
Poor the bed is,--poor and hard;
But thy father, far exiled,
Sleeps upon the open sward,
Dreaming of us two at home;
Or, beneath the starry dome,
Digs out trenches in the dark,
Where he buries--Willie, mark!--
Where _he buries_ those who died
Fighting--fighting at his side--
By the Alma River.

Willie, Willie, go to sleep;
God will help us, O my boy!
He will make the dull hours creep
Faster, and send news of joy;
When I need not shrink to meet
Those great placards in the street,
That for weeks will ghastly stare
In some eyes--child, say that prayer
Once again,--a different one,--
Say, "O God! Thy will be done
By the Alma River."


* * * * *


[October 25, 1854.]

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward.
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said;
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why.
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well;
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell,
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke,
Right through the line they broke:
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke,
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not--
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered:
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,--
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!


* * * * *


[September 25, 1857.]

O, that last day in Lucknow fort!
We knew that it was the last;
That the enemy's lines crept surely on.
And the end was coming fast.

To yield to that foe meant worse than death;
And the men and we all worked on;
It was one day more of smoke and roar,
And then it would all be done.

There was one of us, a corporal's wife,
A fair, young, gentle thing,
Wasted with fever in the siege.
And her mind was wandering.

She lay on the ground, in her Scottish plaid,
And I took her head on my knee;
"When my father comes hame frae the pleugh," she said,
"Oh! then please wauken me."

She slept like a child on her father's floor,
In the flecking of woodbine-shade,
When the house-dog sprawls by the open door,
And the mother's wheel is stayed.

It was smoke and roar and powder-stench,
And hopeless waiting for death;
And the soldier's wife, like a full-tired child,
Seemed scarce to draw her breath.

I sank to sleep; and I had my dream
Of an English village-lane.
And wall and garden;--but one wild scream
Brought me back to the roar again.

There Jessie Brown stood listening
Till a sudden gladness broke
All over her face; and she caught my hand
And drew me near as she spoke:--

"The Hielanders! O, dinna ye hear
The slogan far awa,
The McGregor's?--O, I ken it weel;
It's the grandest o' them a'!

"God bless thae bonny Hielanders!
We're saved! we're saved!" she cried;
And fell on her knees; and thanks to God
Flowed forth like a full flood-tide.

Along the battery-line her cry
Had fallen among the men,
And they started back;--they were there to die;
But was life so near them, then?

They listened for life; the rattling fire
Far off, and the far-off roar,
Were all; and the colonel shook his head,
And they turned to their guns once more.

But Jessie said, "The slogan's done;
But winna ye hear it noo,
_The Campbells are comin'_? It's no' a dream;
Our succors hae broken through!"

We heard the roar and the rattle afar,
But the pipes we could not hear;
So the men plied their work of hopeless war
And knew that the end was near.

It was not long ere it made its way,--
A thrilling, ceaseless sound:
It was no noise from the strife afar,
Or the sappers under ground.

It _was_ the pipes of the Highlanders!
And now they played _Auld Lang Syne;_
It came to our men like the voice of God,
And they shouted along the line.

And they wept, and shook one another's hands,
And the women sobbed in a crowd;
And every one knelt down where he stood,
And we all thanked God aloud.

That happy day, when we welcomed them,
Our men put Jessie first;
And the general gave her his hand, and cheers
Like a storm from the soldiers burst.

And the pipers' ribbons and tartan streamed,
Marching round and round our line;
And our joyful cheers were broken with tears,
As the pipes played _Auld Long Syne_.


* * * * *


"What are the bugles blowin' for?" said Files-on-Parade.
"To turn you out, to turn you out," the Color-Sergeant said.
"What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade.
"I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch," the Color-Sergeant said.
For they're hangin' Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,
The regiment's in 'ollow square--they're hangin' him to-day;
They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away,
An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

"What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold," the Color-Sergeant said.
"What makes that front-rank man fall down?" says Files-on-Parade.
"A touch o' sun, a touch o' sun," the Color-Sergeant said.
They are hangin' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round,
They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground;
An' 'e'll swing in 'arf a minute for a sneakin' shootin' hound--
O they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!

"'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine," said Files-on-Parade.
"'E's sleepin' out an' far to-night," the Color-Sergeant said.
"I've drunk 'is beer a score o' times," said Files-on-Parade.
"'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone," the Color-Sergeant said.
They are hangin' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place,
For 'e shot a comrade sleepin'--you must look 'im in the face;
Nine 'undred of 'is county an' the regiment's disgrace,
While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

"What's that so black agin the sun?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life," the Color-Sergeant said.
"What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the Color-Sergeant said.
For they're done with Danny Deever, you can 'ear the quickstep play,
The regiment's in column, an' they're marchin' us away;
Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer
After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.


* * * * *


Where are the men who went forth in the morning,
Hope brightly beaming in every face?
Fearing no danger,--the Saxon foe scorning,--
Little thought they of defeat or disgrace!
Fallen is their chieftain--his glory departed--
Fallen are the heroes who fought by his side!
Fatherless children now weep, broken-hearted,
Mournfully wandering by Rhuddlan's dark tide!

Small was the band that escaped from the slaughter,
Flying for life as the tide 'gan to flow;
Hast thou no pity, thou dark rolling water?
More cruel still than the merciless foe!
Death is behind them, and death is before them;
Faster and faster rolls on the dark wave;
One wailing cry--and the sea closes o'er them;
Silent and deep is their watery grave.

From the Welsh of TALIESSIN,
Translation of THOMAS OLIPHANT

* * * * *


[About 1307.]

For Scotland's and for freedom's right
The Bruce his part had played,
In five successive fields of fight
Been conquered and dismayed;
Once more against the English host
His band he led, and once more lost
The meed for which he fought;
And now from battle, faint and worn,
The homeless fugitive forlorn
A hut's lone shelter sought.

And cheerless was that resting-place
For him who claimed a throne:
His canopy, devoid of grace,
The rude, rough beams alone;
The heather couch his only bed,--
Yet well I ween had slumber fled
From couch of eider-down!
Through darksome night till dawn of day,
Absorbed in wakeful thoughts he lay
Of Scotland and her crown.

The sun rose brightly, and its gleam
Fell on that hapless bed,
And tinged with light each shapeless beam
Which roofed the lowly shed;
When, looking up with wistful eye,
The Bruce beheld a spider try
His filmy thread to fling
From beam to beam of that rude cot;
And well the insect's toilsome lot
Taught Scotland's future king.

Six times his gossamery thread
The wary spider threw;
In vain the filmy line was sped,
For powerless or untrue
Each aim appeared, and back recoiled
The patient insect, six times foiled,
And yet unconquered still;
And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,
Saw him prepare once more to try
His courage, strength, and skill.

One effort more, his seventh and last--
The hero hailed the sign!--
And on the wished-for beam hung fast
That slender, silken line!
Slight as it was, his spirit caught
The more than omen, for his thought
The lesson well could trace,
Which even "he who runs may read,"
That Perseverance gains its meed,
And Patience wins the race.


* * * * *


[June 24, 1314.]

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie.

Now's the day, and now's the hour
See the front o' battle lour:
See approach proud Edward's power,--
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'?
Let him follow me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By our sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do, or die!


* * * * *



Loud a hundred clansmen raise
Their voices in their chieftain's praise.
Each boatman, bending to his oar,
With measured sweep the burthen bore,
In such wild cadence, as the breeze
Makes through December's leafless trees.
The chorus first could Allen know,
"Roderigh Vich Alpine, ho! ieroe!"
And near, and nearer, as they rowed,
Distinct the martial ditty flowed.

Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!
Honored and blessed be the evergreen Pine!
Long may the tree, in his banner that glances,
Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line!
Heaven send it happy dew,
Earth lend it sap anew,
Gayly to bourgeon, and broadly to grow,
While every Highland glen
Sends our shouts back again,
"Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"

Ours is no sapling chance-sown by the fountain.
Blooming at Beltane, in winter to fade;
When the whirlwind has stripped every leaf on the mountain,
The more shall Clan-Alpine exult in her shade.
Moored in the rifted rock,
Proof to the tempest's shock,
Firmer he roots him the ruder it blow;
Menteith and Breadalbane, then,
Echo his praise again,
"Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"

Proudly our pibroch has thrilled in Glen Fruin,
And Bannachar's groans to our slogan replied;
Glen Luss and Ross-dhu, they are smoking in ruin,
And the best of Loch-Lomond lie dead on her side.
Widow and Saxon maid
Long shall lament our raid,
Think of Clan-Alpine with fear and with woe;
Lennox and Leven-glen
Shake when they hear again,
"Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"

Row, vassals, row, for the pride of the Highlands!
Stretch to your oars for the evergreen Pine!
O that the rosebud that graces yon islands
Were wreathed in a garland around him to twine!
O that some seedling gem,
Worthy such noble stem,
Honored and blessed in their shadow might grow!
Loud should Clan-Alpine then
Ring from the deepmost glen,
"Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"


* * * * *




There is no breeze upon the fern,
No ripple on the lake,
Upon her eyrie nods the erne,
The deer has sought the brake;
The small birds will not sing aloud,
The springing trout lies still,
So darkly glooms yon thunder-cloud,
That swathes, as with a purple shroud,
Benledi's distant hill.
Is it the thunder's solemn sound
That mutters deep and dread,
Or echoes from the groaning ground
The warrior's measured tread?
Is it the lightning's quivering glance
That on the thicket streams,
Or do they flash on spear and lance
The sun's retiring beams?
I see the dagger crest of Mar,
I see the Moray's silver star
Wave o'er the cloud of Saxon war,
That up the lake comes winding far!
To hero bound for battle strife,
Or bard of martial lay,
'Twere worth ten years of peaceful life,
One glance at their array!

Their light-armed archers far and near
Surveyed the tangled ground,
Their centre ranks, with pike and spear,
A twilight forest frowned,
Their barbed horsemen, in the rear,
The stern battalia crowned.
No cymbal clashed, no clarion rang,
Still were the pipe and drum;
Save heavy tread, and armor's clang,
The sullen march was dumb.
There breathed no wind their crests to shake,
Or wave their flags abroad;
Scarce the frail aspen seemed to quake,
That shadowed o'er their road.
Their vaward scouts no tidings bring,
Can rouse no lurking foe,
Nor spy a trace of living thing,
Save when they stirred the roe;
The host moves like a deep sea wave,
Where rise no rocks its pride to brave,
High swelling, dark, and slow.
The lake is passed, and now they gain
A narrow and a broken plain,
Before the Trosach's rugged jaws;
And here the horse and spearmen pause,
While, to explore the dangerous glen,
Dive through the pass the archer men.

At once there rose so wild a yell
Within that dark and narrow dell.
As all the fiends, from heaven that fell,
Had pealed the banner cry of hell!
Forth from the pass in tumult driven,
Like chaff before the winds of heaven,
The archery appear:
For life! for life! their flight they ply--
And shriek, and shout, and battle-cry,
And plaids and bonnets waving high,
And broadswords flashing to the sky,
Are maddening in the rear.
Onward they drive, in dreadful race,
Pursuers and pursued;
Before that tide of flight and chase,
How shall it keep its rooted place,
The spearmen's twilight wood?
--"Down, down," cried Mar, "your lances down!
Bear back both friend and foe!"
Like reeds before the tempest's frown,
That serried grove of lances brown
At once lay levelled low;
And closely shouldering side to side,
The bristling ranks the onset bide.--
--"We'll quell the savage mountaineer,
As their Tinchel[A] cows the game;
They come as fleet as forest deer,
We'll drive them back as tame."

Bearing before them, in their course,
The relics of the archer force,
Like wave with crest of sparkling foam,
Right onward did Clan-Alpine come.
Above the tide, each broadsword bright
Was brandishing like beam of light,
Each targe was dark below;
And with the ocean's mighty swing,
When heaving to the tempest's wing,
They hurled them on the foe.

I heard the lance's shivering crash,
As when the whirlwind rends the ash;
I heard the broadsword's deadly clang,
As if a hundred anvils rang!
But Moray wheeled his rearward flank--
Of horsemen on Clan-Alpine's flank--
"My bannerman, advance!
I see," he cried, "their columns shake.
Now, gallants! for your ladies' sake,
Upon them with the lance!"
The horsemen dashed among the rout,
As deer break through the broom;
Their steeds are stout, their swords are out,
They soon make lightsome room.
Clan-Alpine's best are backward borne--
Where, where was Roderick then?
One blast upon his bugle-horn
Were worth a thousand men!
And refluent through the pass of fear
The battle's tide was poured;
Vanished the Saxon's struggling spear,
Vanished the mountain sword.
As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep,
Receives her roaring linn,
As the dark caverns of the deep
Suck the wild whirlpool in,
So did the deep and darksome pass
Devour the battle's mingled mass;
None linger now upon the plain,
Save those who ne'er shall fight again.

[Footnote A: A circle of sportsmen, surrounding the deer.]


* * * * *


[Footnote A: Pipe-summons, or gathering-song, of Donald the Black.]


Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Pibroch of Donuil,
Wake thy wild voice anew,
Summon Clan Conuil.
Come away, come away,
Hark to the summons!
Come in your war array,
Gentles and commons.

Come from deep glen, and
From mountains so rocky;
The war-pipe and pennon
Are at Inverlochy.
Come every hill-plaid, and
True heart that wears one,
Come every steel blade, and
Strong hand that bears one.

Leave untended the herd,
The flock without shelter;
Leave the corpse uninterred,
The bride at the altar;
Leave the deer, leave the steer,
Leave nets and barges;
Come with your fighting gear,
Broadswords and targes.

Come as the winds come, when
Forests are rended;
Come as the waves come, when
Navies are stranded;
Faster come, faster come.
Faster and faster,
Chief, vassal, page and groom,
Tenant and master.

Fast they come, fast they come;
See how they gather!
Wide waves the eagle plume
Blended with heather.
Cast your plaids, draw your blades,
Forward each man set!
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Knell for the onset!


* * * * *


[September, 1513.]


A moment then Lord Marmion stayed,
And breathed his steed, his men arrayed,
Then forward moved his band,
Until, Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
He halted by a cross of stone,
That, on a hillock standing lone,
Did all the field command.

Hence might they see the full array
Of either host for deadly fray;
Their marshalled lines stretched east and west,
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation past
From the loud cannon-mouth;
Not in the close successive rattle
That breathes the voice of modern battle,
But slow and far between.--
The hillock gained, Lord Marmion stayed:
"Here, by this cross," he gently said,
"You well may view the scene;
Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare:
O, think of Marmion in thy prayer!--
Thou wilt not?--well,--no less my care
Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.--
You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,
With ten picked archers of my train;
With England if the day go hard,
To Berwick speed amain,--
But, if we conquer, cruel maid,
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,
When here we meet again."
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid's despair,
Nor heed the discontented look
From either squire: but spurred amain,
And, dashing through the battle-plain,
His way to Surrey took.

* * * * *

Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still
With Lady Clare upon the hill;
On which (for far the day was spent)
The western sunbeams now were bent.
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view:
Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
"Unworthy office here to stay!
No hope of gilded spurs to-day.--
But, see! look up,--on Flodden bent
The Scottish foe has fired his tent."--
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till
Was wreathed in sable smoke.
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,
As down the hill they broke;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times their warning trumpet blown,
At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne
King James did rushing come.--
Scarce could they hear or see their foes,
Until at weapon-point they close.--
They close in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway and with lance's thrust;
And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth
And fiends in upper air:
O, life and death were in the shout,
Recoil and rally, charge and rout,
And triumph and despair.
Long looked the anxious squires; their eye
Could in the darkness naught descry.

At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And, first, the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightened cloud appears;
And in the smoke the pennons flew,
As in the storm the white sea-mew.
Then marked they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave
Floating like foam upon the wave;
But naught distinct they see:
Wide raged the battle on the plain;
Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain;
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly:
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;
Although against them come
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Highlandman,
And many a rugged Border clan,
With Huntley and with Home.

Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle;
Though there the western mountaineer
Rushed with bare bosom on the spear,
And flung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broadsword plied,
'Twas vain:--But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile, cheered Scotland's fight.
Then fell that spotless banner white,
The Howard's lion fell;
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew
Around the battle-yell.
The Border slogan rent the sky!
A Home! a Gordon! was the cry:
Loud were the clanging blows;
Advanced,--forced back,--now low, now high,
The pennon sunk and rose;
As bends the bark's mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,
It wavered mid the foes.
No longer Blount the view could bear:--
"By heaven and all its saints, I swear,
I will not see it lost!
Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare
May bid your beads, and patter prayer,--
I gallop to the host."
And to the fray he rode amain,
Followed by all the archer train.
The fiery youth, with desperate charge,
Made, for a space, an opening large,
The rescued banner rose.
But darkly closed the war around.
Like pine-tree rooted from the ground.
It sunk among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too;--yet stayed,
As loath to leave the helpless maid,
When, fast as shaft can fly,
Bloodshot his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,
Lord Marmion's steed rushed by;
And Eustace, maddening at the sight,
A look and sign to Clara cast,
To mark he would return in haste,
Then plunged into the fight.

Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone:
Perchance her reason stoops or reels;
Perchance a courage, not her own,
Braces her mind to desperate tone.--
The scattered van of England wheels;--
She only said, as loud in air;
The tumult roared, "Is Wilton there?"
They fly, or, maddened by despair,
Fight but to die,--"Is Wilton there?"
With that, straight up the hill there rode;
Two horsemen drenched with gore,
And in their arms, a helpless load,
A wounded knight they bore.
His hand still strained the broken brand;
His arms were smeared with blood and sand.
Dragged from among the horses' feet,
With dinted shield, and helmet beat,
The falcon-crest and plumage gone,
Can that be haughty Marmion!...
Young Blount his armor did unlace,
And, gazing on his ghastly face,
Said,--"By Saint George, he's gone!
That spear-wound has our master sped,--
And see the deep cut on his head!
Good night to Marmion."--
"Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease:
He opes his eyes," said Eustace; "peace!"

When, doffed his casque, he felt free air,
Around 'gan Marmion wildly stare:--
"Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace where?
Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare!
Redeem my pennon,--charge again!
Cry--'Marmion to the rescue!'--vain!
Last of my race, on battle-plain
That shout shall ne'er be heard again!--
Yet my last thought is England's:--fly,
To Dacre bear my signet-ring:
Tell him his squadrons up to bring:--
Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie;
Tunstall lies dead upon the field,
His life-blood stains the spotless shield:
Edmund is down;--my life is reft;--
The Admiral alone is left.
Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,--
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Full upon Scotland's central host,
Or victory and England's lost.--
Must I bid twice?--hence, varlets! fly!
Leave Marmion here alone--to die."
They parted, and alone he lay:
Clare drew her from the sight away,
Till pain rung forth a lowly moan,
And half he murmured,--"Is there none,
Of all my halls have nurst.
Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring,
Of blessed water from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst?"

O woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!--
Scarce were the piteous accents said,
When, with the Baron's casque, the maid
To the nigh streamlet ran;
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears;
The plaintive voice alone she hears,
Sees but the dying man.
She stooped her by the runnel's side,
But in abhorrence backward drew;
For, oozing from the mountain's side,
Where raged the war, a dark-red tide
Was curdling in the streamlet blue,
Where shall she turn!--behold her mark
A little fountain cell,
Where water, clear as diamond-spark,
In a stone basin fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
Drink : weary : pilgrim : drink : and : pray :
for : the : kind : soul : of : Sybil : Gray :
Who : built : this : cross : and : well :
She filled the helm, and back she hied,
And with surprise and joy espied
A monk supporting Marmion's head;
A pious man whom duty brought
To dubious verge of battle fought,
To shrive the dying, bless the dead.

Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
And, as she stooped his brow to lave,--
"Is it the hand of Clare," he said,
"Or injured Constance, bathes my head?"
Then, as remembrance rose,--
"Speak not to me of shrift or prayer!
I must redress her woes.
Short space, few words, are mine to spare;
Forgive and listen, gentle Clare!"--
"Alas!" she said, "the while.--
O, think of your immortal weal!
In vain for Constance is your zeal;
She--died at Holy Isle."--
Lord Marmion started from the ground,
As light as if he felt no wound;
Though in the action burst the tide
In torrents from his wounded side.
"Then it was truth!" he said,--"I knew
That the dark presage must be true.--
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,
Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be!--this dizzy trance,--
Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand!
A sinful heart makes feeble hand."
Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.

With fruitless labor, Clara bound,
And strove to stanch the gushing wound:
The monk, with unavailing cares,
Exhausted all the Church's prayers.
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear,
For that she ever sung,
"_In the lost battle, borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the
So the notes rung:--
"Avoid thee, Fiend!--with cruel hand,
Shake not the dying sinner's sand!--
O, look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer's grace divine:
O, think on faith and bliss!--
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen,
But never aught like this."

The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swelled the gale,
And STANLEY! was the cry:--
A light on Marmion's visage spread,
And fired his glazing eye:
With dying hand above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,
And shouted "Victory!--
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!"
Were the last words of Marmion.


* * * * *


[About 1688.]

To the lords of convention 'twas Claverhouse spoke,
"Ere the king's crown shall fall, there are crowns to be broke;
So let each cavalier who loves honor and me
Come follow the bonnets of bonnie Dundee!"

_Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can;
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the Westport and let us gang free,
And it's room for the bonnets of bonnie Dundee_!

Dundee he is mounted, he rides up the street,
The bells are rung backward, the drums they are beat;
But the provost, douce man, said, "Just e'en let him be,
The gude toun is well quit of that deil of Dundee!"

As he rode doun the sanctified bends of the Bow,
Ilk carline was flyting and shaking her pow;
But the young plants of grace they looked cowthie and slee,
Thinking, Luck to thy bonnet, thou bonnie Dundee!

With sour-featured whigs the Grass-market was thranged,
As if half the west had set tryst to be hanged;
There was spite in each look, there was fear in each ee,
As they watched for the bonnets of bonnie Dundee.

These cowls of Kilmarnock had spits and had spears,
And lang-hafted gullies to kill cavaliers;
But they shrunk to close-heads, and the causeway was free
At the toss of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.

He spurred to the foot of the proud castle rock,
And with the gay Gordon he gallantly spoke:
"Let Mons Meg and her marrows speak twa words or three,
For the love of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee."

The Gordon demands of him which way he goes.
"Where'er shall direct me the shade of Montrose!
Your grace in short space shall hear tidings of me,
Or that low lies the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.

"There are hills beyond Pentland and lands beyond Forth;
If there's lords in the Lowlands, there's chiefs in the north;
There are wild Duniewassals three thousand times three
Will cry 'Hoigh!' for the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.

"There's brass on the target of barkened bull-hide,
There's steel in the scabbard that dangles beside;
The brass shall be burnished, the steel shall flash free,
At a toss of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.

"Away to the hills, to the caves, to the rocks,
Ere I own an usurper I'll couch with the fox;
And tremble, false whigs, in the midst of your glee,
You have not seen the last of my bonnet and me."

He waved his proud hand, and the trumpets were blown,
The kettle-drums clashed, and the horsemen rode on,
Till on Ravelston's cliffs and on Clermiston's lea
Died away the wild war-notes of bonnie Dundee.

_Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can;
Come saddle the horses, and call up the men;
Come open your doors and let me gae free,
For it's up with the bonnets of bonnie Dundee_!


* * * * *



In a chariot of light from the regions of day,
The Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
And the plant she named _Liberty Tree_.

The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground,
Like a native it flourished and bore;
The fame of its fruit drew the nations around,
To seek out this peaceable shore.
Unmindful of names or distinction they came,
For freemen like brothers agree;
With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
And their temple was _Liberty Tree_.

Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old,
Their bread in contentment they ate,
Unvexed with the troubles of silver and gold,
The cares of the grand and the great.
With timber and tar they Old England supplied,
And supported her power on the sea;
Her battles they fought, without getting a groat,
For the honor of _Liberty Tree_.

But hear, O ye swains, 'tis a tale most profane,
How all the tyrannical powers,
Kings, Commons, and Lords, are united amain.
To cut down this guardian of ours;
From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
Through the land let the sound of it flee,
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
In defence of our _Liberty Tree_.


* * * * *



By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.


* * * * *


[Footnote A: General Joseph Warren, who fell at the battle of Bunker
Hill, June 17, 1775.]

Stand! the ground's your own, my braves!
Will ye give it up to slaves?
Will ye look for greener graves?
Hope ye mercy still?
What's the mercy despots feel?
Hear it in that battle-peal!
Read it on yon bristling steel!
Ask it,--ye who will.

Fear ye foes who kill for hire?
Will ye to your _homes_ retire?
Look behind you!--they're afire!
And, before you, see
Who have done it! From the vale
On they come!--and will ye quail?
Leaden rain and iron hail
Let their welcome be!

In the God of battles trust!
Die we may,--and die we must:
But, O, where can dust to dust
Be consigned so well,
As where heaven its dews shall shed
On the martyred patriot's bed,
And the rocks shall raise their head,
Of his deeds to tell?


* * * * *



The trump hath blown,
And now upon that reeking hill
Slaughter rides screaming on the vengeful ball;
While with terrific signal shrill,
The vultures from their bloody eyries flown,
Hang o'er them like a pall.
Now deeper roll the maddening drums,
And the mingling host like ocean heaves;
While from the midst a horrid wailing comes,
And high above the fight the lonely bugle grieves!


* * * * *


[Footnote A: Hanged as a spy by the British, in New York City,
September 22, 1776.]

To drum-beat and heart-beat
A soldier marches by:
There is color in his cheek,
There is courage in his eye,
Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat
In a moment he must die.

By starlight and moonlight,
He seeks the Briton's camp;
He hears the rustling flag,
And the armed sentry's tramp;
And the starlight and moonlight
His silent wanderings lamp.

With slow tread and still tread,
He scans the tented line;
And he counts the battery guns
By the gaunt and shadowy pine;
And his slow tread and still tread
Gives no warning sign.

The dark wave, the plumed wave,
It meets his eager glance;
And it sparkles 'neath the stars,
Like the glimmer of a lance--
A dark wave, a plumed wave,
On an emerald expanse.

A sharp clang, a steel clang,
And terror in the sound!
For the sentry, falcon-eyed,
In the camp a spy hath found;
With a sharp clang, a steel clang,
The patriot is bound.

With calm brow, steady brow,
He listens to his doom;
In his look there is no fear,
Nor a shadow-trace of gloom;
But with calm brow and steady brow
He robes him for the tomb.

In the long night, the still night,
He kneels upon the sod;
And the brutal guards withhold
E'en the solemn Word of God!
In the long night, the still night,
He walks where Christ hath trod.

'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn,
He dies upon the tree;
And he mourns that he can lose
But one life for Liberty;
And in the blue morn, the sunny morn,
His spirit-wings are free.

But his last words, his message-words,
They burn, lest friendly eye
Should read how proud and calm
A patriot could die,
With his last words, his dying words,
A soldier's battle-cry.

From Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf,
From monument and urn,
The sad of earth, the glad of heaven,
His tragic fate shall learn;
And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf
The name of HALE shall burn!


* * * * *


[Footnote A: General Francis Marion, of South Carolina, renowned as a
daring patriot partisan leader during the Revolutionary War.]

Our band is few, but true and tried,
Our leader frank and bold;
The British soldier trembles
When Marion's name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood,
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us,
As seamen know the sea;
We know its walls of thorny vines,
Its glades of reedy grass,
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.

Woe to the English soldiery
That little dread us near!
On them shall light at midnight
A strange and sudden fear;
When, waking to their tents on fire,
They grasp their arms in vain,
And they who stand to face us
Are beat to earth again;
And they who fly in terror deem
A mighty host behind,
And hear the tramp of thousands
Upon the hollow wind.

Then sweet the hour that brings release
From danger and from toil;
We talk the battle over,
And share the battle's spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout,
As if a hunt were up,
And woodland flowers are gathered
To crown the soldier's cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the pine-top grieves,
And slumber long and sweetly
On beds of oaken leaves.

Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads,--
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
'Tis life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlight plain;
'Tis life to feel the night-wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp--
A moment--and away
Back to the pathless forest,
Before the peep of day.

Grave men there are by broad Santee,
Grave men with hoary hairs;
Their hearts are all with Marion,
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming,
With smiles like those of summer,
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms,
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton
Forever from our shore.


* * * * *


In their ragged regimentals
Stood the old Continentals,
Yielding not.
When the grenadiers were lunging,
And like hail fell the plunging
When the files
Of the isles,
From the smoky night encampment, bore the banner of the rampant
And grummer, grummer, grummer rolled the roll of the drummer,
Through the morn!

Then with eyes to the front all,
And with guns horizontal,
Stood our sires;
And the balls whistled deadly,
And in streams flashing redly
Blazed the fires;
As the roar
On the shore,
Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the green-sodded acres
Of the plain;
And louder, louder, louder, cracked the black gun-powder,
Cracking amain!

Now like smiths at their forges
Worked the red St. George's
And the "villanous saltpetre"
Rung a fierce, discordant metre
Round their ears;
As the swift
With hot sweeping anger, came the horseguards' clangor
On our flanks;
Then higher, higher, higher, burned the old fashioned fire
Through the ranks!

Then the bare-headed colonel
Galloped through the white infernal
And his broad sword was swinging
And his brazen throat was ringing
Then the blue
Bullets flew,
And the trooper-jackets redden at the touch of the leaden
And rounder, rounder, rounder, roared the iron six-pounder,
Hurling death!


* * * * *


[Published soon after the surrender of Cornwallis.]

Cornwallis led a country dance,
The like was never seen, sir,
Much retrogade and much advance,
And all with General Greene, sir.

They rambled up and rambled down,
Joined hands, then off they run, sir.
Our General Greene to Charlestown,
The earl to Wilmington, sir.

Greene in the South then danced a set.
And got a mighty name, sir,
Cornwallis jigged with young Fayette,
But suffered in his fame, sir.

Then down he figured to the shore,
Most like a lordly dancer,
And on his courtly honor swore
He would no more advance, sir.

Quoth he, my guards are weary grown
With footing country dances,
They never at St. James's shone,
At capers, kicks, or prances.

Though men so gallant ne'er were seen,
While sauntering on parade, sir,
Or wiggling o'er the park's smooth green,
Or at a masquerade, sir.

Yet are red heels and long-laced skirts,
For stumps and briars meet, sir?
Or stand they chance with hunting-shirts,
Or hardy veteran feet, sir?

Now housed in York, he challenged all,
At minuet or all 'amande,
And lessons for a courtly ball
His guards by day and night conned.

This challenge known, full soon there came
A set who had the bon ton,
De Grasse and Rochambeau, whose fame
Fut brillant pour un long tems.

And Washington, Columbia's son,
Whom every nature taught, sir,
That grace which can't by pains be won,
Or Plutus's gold be bought, sir.

Now hand in hand they circle round
This ever-dancing peer, sir;
Their gentle movements soon confound
The earl as they draw near, sir.

His music soon forgets to play--
His feet can move no more, sir,
And all his bands now curse the day
They jigged to our shore, sir.

Now Tories all, what can ye say?
Come--is not this a griper,
That while your hopes are danced away,
'Tis you must pay the piper?


* * * * *


[Mexico, September 19, 1846.]

We were not many,--we who stood
Before the iron sleet that day;
Yet many a gallant spirit would
Give half his years if but he could
Have been with us at Monterey.

Now here, now there, the shot it hailed
In deadly drifts of fiery spray,
Yet not a single soldier quailed
When wounded comrades round them wailed
Their dying shouts at Monterey.

And on, still on our column kept,
Through walls of flame its withering way;
Where fell the dead, the living stept,
Still charging on the guns which swept
The slippery streets of Monterey.

The foe himself recoiled aghast,
When striking where he strongest lay,
We swooped his flanking batteries past,
And, braving full their murderous blast,
Stormed home the towers of Monterey.

Our banners on those turrets wave,
And there our evening bugles play;
Where orange boughs above their grave,
Keep green the memory of the brave
Who fought and fell at Monterey.

We are not many,--we who pressed
Beside the brave who fell that day;
But who of us has not confessed
He'd rather share their warrior rest
Than not have been at Monterey?


* * * * *


[April, 1861.]

World, art thou 'ware of a storm?
Hark to the ominous sound;
How the far-off gales their battle form,
And the great sea-swells feel ground!

It comes, the Typhoon of Death--
Nearer and nearer it comes!
The horizon thunder of cannon-breath
And the roar of angry drums!

Hurtle, Terror sublime!
Swoop o'er the Land to-day--
So the mist of wrong and crime,
The breath of our Evil Time
Be swept, as by fire, away!


* * * * *



O keeper of the Sacred Key,
And the Great Seal of Destiny.
Whose eye is the blue canopy.
Look down upon the warring world, and tell us what the end will be.

"Lo, through the wintry atmosphere.
On the white bosom of the sphere,
A cluster of five lakes appear;
And all the land looks like a couch, or warrior's shield, or sheeted

"And on that vast and hollow field,
With both lips closed and both eyes sealed,
A mighty Figure is revealed,--
Stretched at full length, and stiff and stark, as in the hollow of a

"The winds have tied the drifted snow
Around the face and chin; and lo,
The sceptred Giants come and go,
And shake their shadowy crowns and say: 'We always feared it would
be so!'

"She came of an heroic race:
A giant's strength, a maiden's grace,
Like two in one seem to embrace,
And match, and bend, and thorough-blend, in her colossal form and face.

"Where can her dazzling falchion be?
One hand is fallen in the sea;
The Gulf Stream drifts it far and free;
And in that hand her shining brand gleams from the depths resplendently.

"And by the other, in its rest,
The starry banner of the West
Is clasped forever to her breast;
And of her silver helmet, lo, a soaring eagle is the crest.

"And on her brow, a softened light,
As of a star concealed from sight
By some thin veil of fleecy white,
Or of the rising moon behind the raining vapors of the night.

"The Sisterhood that was so sweet,
The Starry System sphered complete,
Which the mazed Orient used to greet,
The Four-and-Thirty fallen Stars glimmer and glitter at her feet.

"And over her,--and over all.
For panoply and coronal,--
The mighty Immemorial,
And everlasting Canopy and Starry Arch and Shield of All.


"Three cold, bright moons have marched and wheeled;
And the white cerement that revealed
A Figure stretched upon a Shield,
Is turned to verdure; and the Land is now one mighty battle-field.

"And lo, the children which she bred,
And more than all else cherished,
To make them true in heart and head,
Stand face to face, as mortal foes, with their swords crossed above
the dead.

"Each hath a mighty stroke and stride:
One true,--the more that he is tried;
The other dark and evil-eyed;--
And by the hand of one of them, his own dear mother surely died!

"A stealthy step, a gleam of hell,--
It is the simple truth to tell,--
The Son stabbed and the Mother fell:
And so she lies, all mute and pale, and pure and irreproachable!

"And then the battle-trumpet blew;
And the true brother sprang and drew
His blade to smite the traitor through;
And so they clashed above the bier, and the Night sweated bloody dew.

"And all their children, far and wide,
That are so greatly multiplied,
Rise up in frenzy and divide;
And choosing, each whom he will serve, unsheathe the sword and take
their side.

"And in the low sun's bloodshot rays,
Portentous of the coming days,
The Two great Oceans blush and blaze,
With the emergent continent between them, wrapt in crimson haze.

"Now whichsoever stand or fall,
As God is great, and man is small,
The Truth shall triumph over all:
Forever and forevermore, the Truth shall triumph over all!


"I see the champion sword-strokes flash;
I see them fall and hear them clash;
I hear the murderous engines crash;
I see a brother stoop to loose a foeman-brother's bloody sash.

"I see the torn and mangled corse,
The dead and dying heaped in scores,
The headless rider by his horse,
The wounded captive bayoneted through and through without remorse.

"I hear the dying sufferer cry,
With his crushed face turned to the sky,
I see him crawl in agony
To the foul pool, and bow his head into bloody slime, and die.

"I see the assassin crouch and fire,
I see his victim fall,--expire;
I see the murderer creeping nigher
To strip the dead. He turns the head,--the face! The son beholds his

"I hear the curses and the thanks;
I see the mad charge on the flanks,
The rents, the gaps, the broken ranks,
The vanquished squadrons driven headlong down the river's bridgeless

"I see the death-gripe on the plain,
The grappling monsters on the main,
The tens of thousands that are slain,
And all the speechless suffering and agony of heart and brain.

"I see the dark and bloody spots,
The crowded rooms and crowded cots,
The bleaching bones, the battle blots,--
And writ on many a nameless grave, a legend of forget-me-nots.

"I see the gorged prison-den,
The dead line and the pent-up pen,
The thousands quartered in the fen,
The living-deaths of skin and bone that were the goodly shapes of men.

"And still the bloody Dew must fall!
And His great Darkness with the Pall
Of His dread Judgment cover all,
Till the Dead Nation rise Transformed by Truth to triumph over all!"

"And Last--and Last I see--The Dead."
Thus saith the Keeper of the Key,
And the Great Seal of Destiny,
Whose eye is the blue canopy,
And leaves the Pall of His great Darkness over all the Land and Sea.

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