A simple, sodded mound of earth,
Without a line above it;
With only daily votive flowers
To prove that any love it:
The token flag that silently
Each breeze's visit numbers,
Alone keeps martial ward above
The hero's dreamless slumbers.
No name? - no record? Ask the world;
The world has read his story -
If all its annals can unfold
A prouder tale of glory: -
If ever merely human life
Hath taught diviner moral, -
If ever round a worthier brow
Was twined a purer laurel!
A twelvemonth only, since his sword
Went flashing through the battle -
A twelvemonth only, since his ear
Heard war's last deadly rattle -
And yet, have countless pilgrim-feet
The pilgrim's guerdon paid him,
And weeping women come to see
The place where they have laid him.
Contending armies bring, in turn,
Their meed of praise or honor,
And Pallas here has paused to bind
The cypress wreath upon her:
It seems a holy sepulchre,
Whose sanctities can waken
Alike the love of friend or foe, -
Of Christian or of pagan.
THEY come to own his high emprise,
Who fled in frantic masses,
Before the glittering bayonet
That triumphed at Manassas:
Who witnessed Kernstown's fearful odds,
As on their ranks he thundered,
Defiant as the storied Greek,
Amid his brave three hundred!
They well recall the tiger spring,
The wise retreat, the rally,
The tireless march, the fierce pursuit,
Through many a mountain valley:
Cross Keys unlock new paths to fame,
And Port Republic's story
Wrests from his ever-vanquish'd foes,
Strange tributes to his glory.
Cold Harbor rises to their view, -
The Cedars' gloom is o'er them;
Antietam's rough and rugged heights,
Stretch mockingly before them:
The lurid flames of Fredericksburg
Right grimly they remember,
That lit the frozen night's retreat,
That wintry-wild December!
The largess of their praise is flung
With bounty, rare and regal;
- Is it because the vulture fears
No longer the dead eagle?
Nay, rather far accept it thus, -
An homage true and tender,
As soldier unto soldier's worth, -
As brave to brave will render,
But who shall weigh the wordless grief
That leaves in tears its traces,
As round their leader crowd again,
The bronzed and veteran faces!
The "Old Brigade" he loved so well -
The mountain men, who bound him
With bays of their own winning, ere
A tardier fame had crowned him;
The legions who had seen his glance
Across the carnage flashing,
And thrilled to catch his ringing "charge"
Above the volley crashing; -
Who oft had watched the lifted hand,
The inward trust betraying,
And felt their courage grow sublime,
While they beheld him praying!
Good knights and true as ever drew
Their swords with knightly Roland;
Or died at Sobieski's side,
For love of martyr'd Poland;
Or knelt with Cromwell's Ironsides;
Or sang with brave Gustavus;
Or on the plain of Austerlitz,
Breathed out their dying AVES!
Rare fame! rare name! - If chanted praise,
With all the world to listen, -
If pride that swells a nation's soul, -
If foemen's tears that glisten, -
If pilgrims' shrining love, - if grief
Which nought may soothe or sever, -
If THESE can consecrate, - this spot
Is sacred ground forever!