Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 39.djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
3
The House of Broken Swords.




Lifted a veil; and Lo! a marching host
Swept through the aisles, while on amazed ears
Sea-like uprose The Prayer of Beaten Men.


"We are the fallen, who with helpless faces
 Hid in the dust, in stiffening ruin lay.
Felt the hoofs beat, and heard the rattling traces.
 As o'er us drove the chariots of the fray.


"We are the fallen, who by ramparts gory
 Awaiting death, heard the far shouts begin.
And with our last glance glimpsed the victor's glory
 For which we died, but dying might not win.


"We were but men. Always our eyes were holden,
 We could not read the dark that walled us round,
Nor deem our futile plans with thine enfolden—
 We fought, not knowing God was on the ground,


"Give us our own; and though in realms eternal
 The potsherd and the pot. belike, are one.
Make our old world to know that with supernal
 Powers we were matched, and by the stars o'erthrown.


"Aye, grant our ears to hear the foolish praising
 Of men—old voices of our lost home-land.
Or else, the gateways of this dim world raising,
 Give us our swords again—and hold thy hand!"


Thus prayed they; and no spoken answer fell.
But whoso watched, saw the dark roof again
Flash into sudden heaven aglow with stars
That aimed their rays, straight as God's glances, on
Those shields alone beneath the broken swords.


 —William Hervey Woods, Scribner for March, 1910.