Poems, now first collected/On the Death of an Invincible Soldier

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ON THE DEATH OF AN INVINCIBLE SOLDIER

O what a sore campaign,
Of which men long shall tell,
Ended when he was slain—
When this our greatest fell!


For him no mould had cast
A bullet surely sped;
No falchion, welded fast,
His iron blood had shed.


Death on the hundredth field
Had failed to bring him low;
He was not born to yield
To might of mortal foe.


Even to himself unknown,
He bore the fated sword,
Forged somewhere near His throne
Of battles still the Lord.


That weapon when he drew,
Back rolled the wrath of men,—
Their onset feebler grew,
The Nation rose again.


The splendor and the fame—
Whisper of these alone,
Nor say that round his name
A moment's shade was thrown;


Count not each satellite
'Twixt him and glory's sun,
The circling things of night;
Number his battles won.


Where then to choose his grave?
From mountain unto sea,
The Land he fought to save
His sepulchre shall be.


Yet to its fruitful earth
His quickening ashes lend,
That chieftains may have birth,
And patriots without end.


His carven scroll shall read:
Here rests the valiant heart
Whose duty was his creed,—
Whose lot, the warrior's part.


Who, when the fight was done,
The grim last foe defied,
Naught knew save victory won,
Surrendered not—but died.

1885