Herman Melville

(1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891 / New York City, New York)

A Dirge For McPherson


Arms reversed and banners creped -
Muffled drums;
Snowy horses sable-draped -
McPherson comes.

But, tell us, shall we know him more,
Lost-Mountain and lone Kenesaw?

Brave the sword upon the pall -
A gleam in gloom;
So a bright name lighteth all
McPherson's doom.

Bear him through the chapel-door -
Let priest in stole
Pace before the warrior
Who led. Bell -toll!

Lay him down within the nave,
The lesson read -
Man is noble, man is brave,
But man's - a weed.

Take him up again and wend
Graveward, nor weep:
There's a trumpet that shall rend
This Soldier's sleep.

Pass the ropes the coffin round,
And let descend;
Prayer and volley - let it sound
McPherson's end.

True fame is his, for life is o'er -
Sarpedon of the mighty war.

Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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