On the Shores of Tennessee

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On the Shores of Tennessee
by Ethel Lynn Beers
This edition appeared in War Pictures; A selection of war lyrics with illustrations on wood. (1864).

ON THE SHORES OF TENNESSEE.

" Move my arm-chair, faithful Pompey,
 In the sunshine bright and strong,
For this world is fading, Pompey,—
 Massa won't be with you long;
And I fain would hear the south wind
 Bring once more the sound to me,
Of the wavelets softly breaking
 On the shores of Tennessee.


" Mournful though the ripples murmur,
 As they still the story tell,
How no vessels float the banner
 That I've loved so long and well;
I shall listen to their music,
 Dreaming that again I see
Stars and Stripes on sloop and shallop
 Sailing up the Tennessee.


" And, Pompey, while old Massa's waiting
 For Death's last dispatch to come,
If that exiled, starry banner
 Should come proudly sailing home,
You should greet it, slave no longer;—
 Voice and hand shall both be free
That shout and point to Union colors
 On the waves of Tennessee."


" Massa's berry kind to Pompey;
 But ole darky's happy here,
Where he's tended corn and cotton
 For 'ese many a long-gone year.
Over yonder Missis' sleeping,—
 No one tends her grave like me;
Mebbe she would miss the flowers
 She used to love in Tennessee.


" 'Pears like she was watching, Massa—
 If Pompey should beside him stay;
Mebbe she'd remember better
 How for him she used to pray;
Telling him that way up yonder
 White as snow his soul would be,
If he served the Lord of heaven
 While he lived in Tennessee."


Silently the tears were rolling
 Down the poor old dusky face.
As he stepped behind his master,
 In his long-accustomed place.
Then a silence fell around them,
 As they gazed on rock and tree
Pictured in the placid waters
 Of the rolling Tennessee;


Master, dreaming of the battle
 Where he fought by Marion's side,
When he bid the haughty Tarleton
 Stoop his lordly crest of pride;
Man, remembering how yon sleeper
 Once he held upon his knee,
Ere she loved the gallant soldier,
 Ralph Vervair, of Tennessee.


Still the south wind fondly lingers
 'Mid the veteran's silvery hair;
Still the bondsman, close beside him
 Stands behind the old arm-chair.
With his dark-hued hand uplifted,
 Shading eyes, he bends to see
Where the woodland, boldly jutting
 Turns aside the Tennessee.


Thus he watches cloud-born shadows
 Glide from tree to mountain crest,
Softly creeping, aye and ever
 To the river's yielding breast.
Ha! Above the foliage yonder
 Something flutters wild and free!
"Massa! Massa! Hallelujah!
 The flag's come back to Tennessee!"


"Pompey, hold me on your shoulder,
 Help me stand on foot once more"
That I may salute the colors
 As they pass my cabin door;
Here's the paper signed that frees you,
 Give a freeman's shout with me—
'God and Union!' be our watchword
 Evermore in Tennessee."


Then the trembling voice grew fainter,
 And the limbs refused to stand;
One prayer to Jesus—and the soldier
 Glided to that better land.
When the flag went down the river
 Man and master both were free,
While the ringdove's note was mingled
 With the rippling Tennessee.