He chastens us as nations and as men,
He smites us sore until our pride doth yield,
And hence our heroes, each with hearts for ten,
Were vanquished in the field;
And stand to-day beneath our Southern sun
O'erthrown in battle and despoiled of hope,
Their drums all silent and their cause undone,
And they all left to grope
In darkness till God's own appointed time
In His own manner passeth fully by.
Our Penance this. His Parable sublime
Means we must learn to die.
Not as our soldiers died beneath their flags,
Not as in tumult and in blood they fell,
When from their columns, clad in homely rags,
Rose the Confederate yell.
Not as they died, though never mortal men
Since Tubal Cain first forged his cruel blade
Fought as they fought, nor ever shall agen
Such Leader be obeyed!
No, not as died our knightly, soldier dead,
Though they, I trust, have found above surcease
For all life's troubles, but on Christian bed
Should we depart in peace,
Falling asleep like those whose gentle deeds
Are governed through time's passions and its strife,
So justly that we might erect new creeds
From each well ordered life,
Whose saintly lessons are so framed that we
May learn that pain is but a text sublime,
Teaching us how to learn at Sorrow's knee
To value things of time.
Thus thinking o'er life's promise-breaking dreams,
Its lights and shadows made of hopes and fears,
I say that Death is kinder than he seems,
And not the King of Tears.