They fought through lurid dark till dawn;
The war-smoke rolled away
With clouds of night, and showed the fleet
In scarred yet firm array,
Above the forts, above the drift
Of wrecks which strife had made;
And Farragut sailed up to the town
And anchored—sheathed the blade.
The moody broadsides, brooding deep,
Hold the lewd mob at bay,
While o’er the armed decks’ solemn aisles
The meek church-pennons play;
By shotted guns the sailors stand,
With foreheads bound or bare;
The captains and the conquering crews
Humble their pride in prayer.
They pray; and after victory, prayer
Is meet for men who mourn their slain;
The living shall unmoor and sail,
But Death’s dark anchor secret deeps detain.
Yet glory slants her shaft of rays
Far through the undisturbed abyss;
There must be other, nobler worlds for them
Who nobly yield their lives in this.
Ye elms that wave on Malvern Hill
In prime of morn and May,
Recall ye how McClellan’s men
Here stood at bay?
While deep within yon forest dim
Our rigid comrades lay—
Some with the cartridge in their mouth,
Others with fixed arms lifted South—
The cypress glades? Ah wilds of woe!
The spires of Richmond, late beheld
Through rifts in musket-haze,
Were closed from view in clouds of dust
On leaf-walled ways,
Where streamed our wagons in caravan;
And the Seven Nights and Days
Of march and fast, retreat and fight,
Pinched our grimed faces to ghastly plight—
Does the elm wood
Recall the haggard beards of blood?
The battle-smoked flag, with stars eclipsed,
We followed (it never fell!)—
In silence husbanded our strength—
Received their yell;
Till on this slope we patient turned
With cannon ordered well;
Reverse we proved was not defeat;
But ah, the sod what thousands meet!—
Does Malvern Wood
Bethink itself, and muse and brood?
We elms of Malvern Hill
Remember every thing;
But sap the twig will fill:
Wag the world how it will,
Leaves must be green in Spring.
When tempest winnowed grain from bran;
And men were looking for a man,
Authority called you to the van,
Along the line the plaudit ran,
As later when Antietam’s cheers began.
Through storm-cloud and eclipse must move
Each Cause and Man, dear to the stars and Jove;
Nor always can the wisest tell
Deferred fulfillment from the hopeless knell—
The struggler from the floundering ne’er-do-well.
A pall-cloth on the Seven Days fell,
Who could Antietam’s wreath foretell?