Page:Leaves of Grass (1855).djvu/46

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Leaves of Grass.

Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me .... and I am the clock myself.

I am an old artillerist, and tell of some fort’s bombardment .... and am there again.

Again the reveille of drummers .... again the attacking cannon and mortars and howitzers,
Again the attacked send their cannon responsive.

I take part .... I see and hear the whole,
The cries and curses and roar .... the plaudits for well aimed shots,
The ambulanza slowly passing and trailing its red drip,
Workmen searching after damages and to make indispensible repairs,
The fall of grenades through the rent roof .... the fan-shaped explosion,
The whizz of limbs heads stone wood and iron high in the air.

Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general .... he furiously waves with his hand,
He gasps through the clot .... Mind not me .... mind .... the entrenchments.

I tell not the fall of Alamo .... not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo.

Hear now the the tale of a jetblack sunrise,
Hear of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.

Retreating they had formed in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s nine times their number was the price they took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
They treated for an honorable capitulation, received writing and seal, gave up their arms, and marched back prisoners of war.

They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with a horse, a rifle, a song, a supper or a courtship,
Large, turbulent, brave, handsome, generous, proud and affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, dressed in the free costume of hunters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second Sunday morning they were brought out in squads and massacred .... it was beautiful early summer,
The work commenced about five o’clock and was over by eight.

None obeyed the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush .... some stood stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart .... the living and dead lay together,