Hail to victory without the gaud
Of glory; zeal that needs no fans
Of banners; plain mechanic power
Plied cogently in War now placed—
Where War belongs—
Among the trades and artisans.
Yet this was battle, and intense—
Beyond the strife of fleets heroic;
Deadlier, closer, calm ’mid storm;
No passion; all went on by crank,
Pivot, and screw,
And calculations of caloric.
Needless to dwell; the story’s known.
the ringing of those plates on plates
Still ringeth round the world—
The clangor of that blacksmith’s fray.
Resounds this message from the Fates:
War shall yet be, and to the end;
But war-paint shows the streaks of weather;
War yet shall be, but warriors
Are now but operatives; War’s made
Less grand than Peace,
And a singe runs through lace and feather.
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
When Israel camped by Migdol hoar,
Down at her feet her shawm she threw,
But Moses sung and timbrels rung
For Pharaoh’s standed crew.
So God appears in apt events—
The Lord is a man of war!
So the strong wind to the muse is given
In victory’s roar.
Deep be the ode that hymns the fleet—
The fight by night—the fray
Which bore our Flag against the powerful stream,
And led it up to day.
Dully through din of larger strife
Shall bay that warring gun;
But none the less to us who live
It peals—an echoing one.
The shock of ships, the jar of walls,
The rush through thick and thin—
The flaring fire-rafts, glare and gloom—
Eddies, and shells that spin—
The boom-chain burst, the hulks dislodged,
The jam of gun-boats driven,
Or fired, or sunk—made up a war
Like Michael’s waged with leven.
The manned Varuna stemmed and quelled
The odds which hard beset;
The oaken flag-ship, half ablaze,
Passed on and thundered yet;
While foundering, gloomed in grimy flame,
The Ram Manassas—hark the yell!—
Plunged, and was gone; in joy or fright,
The River gave a startled swell.