Perish their Cause! but mark the men—
Mark the planted statues, then
Draw trigger on them if you can.
The leader of a patriot-band
Even so could view rebels who so could stand;
And this when peril pressed him sore,
Left aidless in the shivered front of war—
Skulkers behind, defiant foes before,
And fighting with a broken brand.
The challenge in that courage rare—
Courage defenseless, proudly bare—
Never could tempt him; he could dare
Strike up the leveled rifle there.
Sunday at Shiloh, and the day
When Stonewall charged—McClellan’s
And Chickamauga’s wave of death,
And of the Wilderness the cypress wreath—
All these have passed away.
The life in the veins of Treason lags,
Her daring color-bearers drop their flags,
And yield. Now shall we fire?
Can poor spite be?
Shall nobleness in victory less aspire
Than in reverse? Spare Spleen her ire,
And think how Grant met Lee.
Commemorative of the Dissolution of armies at the Peace
What power disbands the Northern Lights
After their steely play?
The lonely watcher feels an awe
Of Nature’s sway,
As when appearing,
He marked their flashed uprearing
In the cold gloom—
Retreatings and advancings,
(Like dallyings of doom),
Transitions and enhancings,
And bloody ray.
The phantom-host has faded quite,
Splendor and Terror gone
Portent or promise—and gives way
To pale, meek Dawn;
The coming, going,
Alike in wonder showing—
Alike the God,
Decreeing and commanding
The million blades that glowed,
The muster and disbanding—
Midnight and Morn.
Armies he’s seen—the herds of war,
But never such swarms of men
As now in the Nineveh of the North—
How mad the Rebellion then!
And yet but dimly he divines
The depth of that deceit,
And superstitution of vast pride
Humbled to such defeat.
Seductive shone the Chiefs in arms—
His steel the nearest magnet drew;
Wreathed with its kind, the Gulf-weed drives—
’Tis Nature’s wrong they rue.
His face is hidden in his beard,
But his heart peers out at eye—
And such a heart! like a mountain-pool
Where no man passes by.
He thinks of Hill—a brave soul gone;
And Ashby dead in pale disdain;
And Stuart with the Rupert-plume,
Whose blue eye never shall laugh again.
He hears the drum; he sees our boys
From his wasted fields return;
Ladies feast them on strawberries,
And even to kiss them yearn.
He marks them bronzed, in soldier-trim,
The rifle proudly borne;
They bear it for an heirloom home,