William Gilmore Simms
Fort Wagner - Poem by William Gilmore Simms
I.Glory unto the gallant boys who stood
At Wagner, and, unflinching, sought the van;
Dealing fierce blows, and shedding precious blood,
For homes as precious, and dear rights of man!
They've won the meed, and they shall have the glory;--
Song, with melodious memories, shall repeat
The legend, which shall grow to themes for story,
Told through long ages, and forever sweet!
High honor to our youth--our sons and brothers,
Georgians and Carolinians, where they stand!
They will not shame their birthrights, or their mothers,
But keep, through storm, the bulwarks of the land!
They feel that they _must_ conquer! Not to do it,
Were worse than death--perdition! Should they fail,
The innocent races yet unborn shall rue it,
The whole world feel the wound, and nations wail!
No! They must conquer in the breach or perish!
Assured, in the last consciousness of breath,
That love shall deck their graves, and memory cherish
Their deeds, with honors that shall sweeten death!
They shall have trophies in long future hours,
And loving recollections, which shall be
Green, as the summer leaves, and fresh as flowers,
That, through all seasons, bloom eternally!
Their memories shall be monuments, to rise
Next those of mightiest martyrs of the past;
Beacons, when angry tempests sweep the skies,
And feeble souls bend crouching to the blast!
A shrine for thee, young Cheves, well devoted,
Most worthy of a great, illustrious sire;--
A niche for thee, young Haskell, nobly noted,
When skies and seas around thee shook with fire!
And others as well chronicled shall be!
What though they fell with unrecorded name--
They live among the archives of the free,
With proudest title to undying fame!
The unchisell'd marble under which they sleep,
Shall tell of heroes, fearless still of fate;
Not asking if their memories shall keep,
But if they nobly served, and saved, the State!
For thee, young Fortress Wagner--thou shalt wear
Green laurels, worthy of the names that now,
Thy sister forts of Moultrie, Sumter, bear!
See that thou lift'st, for aye, as proud a brow!
And thou shalt be, to future generations,
A trophied monument; whither men shall come
In homage; and report to distant nations,
A SHRINE, which foes shall never make a TOMB!
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