Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/315
Defense of Petersburg.
murmurs, and murmurs sink into souvenirs, and souvenirs end in oblivion."
Time cannot teach forgetfulness
When grief's full heart is fed by fame.
Here in this battle-crowned capital of our ancient Commonwealth, shall "the men who wore the gray" yearly gather and recall the names of those who went forth to battle at the bidding of Virginia—who now lie sleeping on the bosom of this Mother, that, not unmindful of their valor, not ungrateful for this filial devotion, shall keep forever bright the splendor of their deeds, "till earth, and seas, and skies are rended."
No "Painted Porch" is hers, like that of Athens, where, for half a thousand years, the descendants of the men who had followed Miltiades to victory might trace the glories of their Marathon—no gleaming Chapelle des Invalides, with the light flaming through gorgeous windows on tattered flags of battle—no grand historic Abbey, like that of England, where hard by the last resting place of her princes and her kings sleep the great soldiers who have writ glorious names high upon their country's roll with the point of their stainless swords.
Nay, none of this is hers.
Only the frosty stars to-night keep solemn watch and ward above the wind-swept graves of those who, from Potomac to James, from Rapidan to Appomattox, yielded up their lives that they might transmit to their children the heritage of their fathers.
Weep on, Virginia, weep these lives given to thy cause in vain;
The stalwart sons who ne'er shall heed thy trumpet-call again;
The homes whose light is quenched for aye; the graves without a stone;
The folded flag, the broken sword, the hope forever flown.
Yet raise thy head, fair land ! thy dead died bravely for the Right;
The folded flag is stainless still, the broken sword is bright;
No blot is on thy record found, no treason soils thy fame,
Nor can disaster ever dim the lustre of thy name.*
Pondering in her heart all their deeds and words, Virginia calls us, her surviving sons, "from weak regrets and womanish laments to the contemplation of their virtues," bidding us, in the noble words
.* These lines are slightly altered from the noble poem entitled "The Ninth of April, 1865," by Percy Greg—Interleaves in the Workday Prose of Twenty Years—London, 1875.