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
But sap the twig will fill:
Wag the world how it will,
Leaves must be green in Spring.
Mortally wounded at Chancellorsville
THE Man who fiercest charged in fight,
Whose sword and prayer were long—
Even him who stoutly stood for Wrong,
How can we praise? Yet coming days
Shall not forget him with this song.
Dead is the Man whose Cause is dead,
Vainly he died and set his seal—
Earnest in error, as we feel;
True to the thing he deemed was due,
True as John Brown or steel.
Relentlessly he routed us;
But we relent, for he is low—
Justly his fame we outlaw; so
We drop a tear on the bold Virginian’s bier,
Because no wreath we owe.
A Night Piece
No sleep. The sultriness pervades the air
And binds the brain—a dense oppression, such
As tawny tigers feel in matted shades,
Vexing their blood and making apt for ravage.
Beneath the stars the roofy desert spreads
Vacant as Libya. All is hushed near by.
Yet fitfully from far breaks a mixed surf
Of muffled sound, the Atheist roar of riot.
Yonder, where parching Sirius set in drought,
Balefully glares red Arson—there—and
The Town is taken by its rats—ship-rats
And rats of the wharves. All civil charms
And priestly spells which late held hearts in
Fear-bound, subjected to a better sway
Than sway of self; these like a dream dissolve,