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SONGS FOR
BOYHOOD.
177
Before, a dark-haired virgin train Chanted the death-dirge of the slain; Behind, a long procession came Of hoary men and chiefs of fame, With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief, Leading the war-horse of their chief.
Stripped of his proud and martial dress, Uncurbed, unreined, and riderless, With darting eye and nostril spread, Aud heavy and impatient tread, He came ; and oft that eye so proud Asked for his rider in the crowd.
They buried the dark chief; they freed Beside the grave his battle steed; And swift an arrow cleaved its way To his stern heart! One piercing neigh Arose´┐Żand on the dead man's plain The rider grasps his steed again.
The neighing steed, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast; The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din, and shout are past; Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.
Like the dread northern hurricane
That sweeps his broad plateau, Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe. Our heroes felt the shock, and leapt
To meet them on the plain; And long the pitying sky hath wept
Above our gallant slain.
Sous of the consecrated ground,
Ye must not slumber there, Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the endless air. Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave; She claims from war his richest spoil,
The ashes of her brave.
So 'neath their parent's turf they rest,
Far from the gory field, Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield; The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here, And kindred hearts and eyes watch by
The soldiers' sepulchre.
Best on, embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the bloody brave; No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave; Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps, Or honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless tone
In deathless song shall tell, When many a vanquished age hath flown,
The story how you fell. Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor time's remorseless doom, Shall dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb.
THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD.* Theodore O'Haba.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo ; No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few. On fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread; And glory guards, with silent round,
The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind; No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind ; No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms, Nor braying horn, nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their plumed breasts are bowed; Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud! And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow, And the proud forms by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
* On the occasion of the bringing home to Kentucky her sene who fell at Buena Vista.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III