Then stirred the god within the breast—
The witness that is man’s at birth;
A deep misgiving undermined
Each plea and subterfuge of earth;
They felt in that rapt pause, with warning rife,
Horror and anguish for the civil strife.
Of North or South they reeked not then,
Warm passion cursed the cause of war:
Can Africa pay back this blood
Spilt on Potomac’s shore?
Yet doubts, as pangs, were vain the strife
And hands that fain had clasped again
How frequent in the camp was seen
The herald from the hostile one,
A guest and frank companion there
When the proud formal talk was done;
The pipe of peace was smoked even ’mid the
And fields in Mexico again fought o’er.
In Western battle long they lay
So near opposed in trench or pit,
That foeman unto foeman called
As men who screened in tavern sit:
“You bravely fight” each to the other said—
“Toss us a biscuit!” o’er the wall it sped.
And pale on those same slopes, a boy—
A stormer, bled in noon-day glare;
No aid the Blue-coats then could bring,
He cried to them who nearest were,
And out there came ’mid howling shot and shell
A daring foe who him befriended well.
Mark the great Captains on both sides,
The soldiers with the broad renown—
They all were messmates on the Hudson’s
Beneath one roof they laid them down;
And, free from hate in many an after pass,
Strove as in school-boy rivalry of the class.
A darker side there is; but doubt
In Nature’s charity hovers there:
If men for new agreement yearn,
Then old upbraiding best forbear:
“The South’s the sinner!” Well, so let it be;
But shall the North sin worse, and stand the
O, now that brave men yield the sword,
Mine be the manful soldier-view;
By how much more they boldly warred,
By so much more is mercy due:
When Vicksburg fell, and the moody files
Silent the victors stood, scorning to raise a
Poems From Mardi
We fish, we fish, we merrily swim,
We care not for friend nor for foe.
Our fins are stout,
Our tails are out,
As through the seas we go.
Fish, Fish, we are fish with red gills;
Naught disturbs us, our blood is at zero:
We are buoyant because of our bags,
Being many, each fish is a hero.
We care not what is it, this life
That we follow, this phantom unknown;
To swim, it’s exceedingly pleasant,—
So swim away, making a foam.
This strange looking thing by our side,
Not for safety, around it we flee:—
Its shadow’s so shady, that’s all,—
We only swim under its lee.
And as for the eels there above,
And as for the fowls of the air,
We care not for them nor their ways,
As we cheerily glide afar!