The Confederate Dead (1867)
From the broad and calm Potomac,
To the Rio Grande’s waves,
Have the brave and noble fallen —
And the earth is strewn with graves,
In the vale and on the hill-side,
Through the wood and by the stream,
Has the martial pageant faded,
Like the vision of a dream.
Where the reveille resounded,
And the stirring “call to arms,”
Nod the downy heads of clover
To the wind’s mesmeric charms;
Where the heels of trampling squadrons
Beat to dust the mountain pass,
Hang the dew-drops’ fragile crystals
From the slender stems of grass.
Where the shocks of meeting armies
Roused the air in raging waves,
And with sad and hollow groanings,
Echoed earth’s deep hidden caves;
Where the cries of crushed and dying
Pierced the elemental strife,
Where lay death in sickening horror
‘Neath’ the maddened rush of life;
Quiet now reigns, sweet and pensive,
All is hushed in dreamless rest,
And the pitying arms of Nature
Hold our heroes on her breast;
Shield them well, O tender mother!
While the winds in tender breath
Whisper us, the sad survivors,
Of their victory in death.
What though no stately column,
Their cherished names may raise,
To dim the eye and move the lip
With gratitude and praise.
The blue sky, hung with bannered clouds,
Their solemn dome shall be,
All Heaven’s choiring winds shall chant
The anthem of the free.
The Spring, with vine-clad arms, shall clasp
Their hillocked resting-places,
And summer roses droop above
With flushed and dewy faces;
Fair daisies, rayed and crowned, shall spring
Like stars from out their dust,
And look to kindred stars on high
With eyes of patient trust.
And vainly shall the witling’s lips
Assail with envious dart
The fame of our heroic dead,
Whose stronghold is the heart—
The nation’s heart—not wholly crushed,
Though each throb be in pain;
For Life and Hope will still survive,
Where Love and Faith remain.