Three from Matthiessen
Poems from The Oxford Book of American Verse.
Sung at the completion of the Battle Monument,
July 4, 1837
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
A Requiem (April, 1862)
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the fields in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched one stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
The Gift Outright
The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
The Oxford Book of American Verse (1950), ed. F.O. Matthiessen, ## 30, 149, 297; pp. 69f, 397f, 584f.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Sun. 07/04/04 08:56:48 AM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.