Who first the glittering falchion swayed,
Who first beneath its fury fell,
I know not : but I hope to know
That for no mean or hireling trade,
To guard no feeling, base or low,
I give my soldier boy a blade.
Cool, calm, and clear the lucid flood
In which its tempering work was done ;
As calm, as cool, as clear of mood
Be thou whene er it sees the sun ;
For country s claim, at honor s call,
For outraged friend, insulted maid,
At mercy s voice to bid it fall,
I give my soldier boy a blade.
The eye which marked its peerless edge,
The hand that weighed its balanced poise,
Anvil and pincers, forge and wedge,
Are gone with all their flame and noise ;
And still the gleaming sword remains.
So when in dust I low am laid,
Remember by these heartfelt strains
I give my soldier boy a blade.
"THE BRIGADE MUST NOT KNOW, SIR!"
" Who Ve ye got there ? " " Only a dying brother,
Hurt in the front just now."
" Good boy ! he 11 do. Somebody tell his mother
Where he was killed, and how."
" Whom have you there ? " "A crippled courier, Major,
Shot by mistake, we hear.
He was with Stonewall." " Cruel work they Ve made here ;
Quick with him to the rear ! "
" Well, who comes next ? " " Doctor, speak low, speak low, sir ;
Don t let the men find out !
It s Stonewall ! " " God ! " " The brigade must not know, sir,
While there s a foe about ! "
2/2 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Whom have we here shrouded in martial manner,
Crowned with a martyr s charm ?
A grand dead hero, in a living banner,
Born of his heart and arm :
The heart whereon his cause hung see how clingeth
That banner to his bier !
The arm wherewith his cause struck hark ! how ringeth
His trumpet in their rear !
What have we left ? His glorious inspiration,
His prayers in council met ;
Living, he laid the first stones of a nation ;
And dead, he builds it yet.
THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
No more o er human hearts to wave,
Its tattered folds forever furled :
We laid it in an honored grave,
And left its memories to the world.
The agony of long, long years,
May, in a moment, be compressed,
And with a grief too deep for tears,
A heart may be oppressed.
Oh ! there are those who die too late
For faith in God, and Right, and Truth,
The cold mechanic grasp of Fate
Hath crushed the roses of their youth.
More blessed are the dead who fell
Beneath it in unfaltering trust,
Than we, who loved it passing well,
Yet lived to see it trail in dust.
It hath no future which endears,
And this farewell shall be our last :
Embalm it in a nation s tears,
And consecrate it to the past !
To moldering hands that to it clung,
And flaunted it in hostile faces,
To pulseless arms that round it flung,
The terror of their last embraces
To our dead heroes to the hearts
That thrill no more to love or glory,
To those who acted well their parts,
Who died in youth and live in glory -
With tears forever be it told,
Until oblivion covers all :
Until the heavens themselves wear old,
And totter slowly to their fall.
LINES ON A CONFEDERATE NOTE
Representing nothing on God s earth now,
And naught in the waters below it,
As the pledge of a nation that s dead and gone,
Keep it, dear friend, and show it.
2/4 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Show it to those who will lend an ear
To the tale that this paper can tell
Of Liberty born of the patriot s dream,
Of a storm-cradled nation that fell.
Too poor to possess the precious ores,
And too much of a stranger to borrow,
We issued to-day our promise to pay,
And hoped to repay on the morrow.
The days rolled by and weeks became years,
But our coffers were empty still ;
Coin was so rare that the treasury d quake
If a dollar should drop in the till.
But the faith that was in us was strong, indeed,
And our poverty well we discerned,
And this little check represented the pay
That our suffering veterans earned.
We knew it had hardly a value in gold,
Yet as gold each soldier received it ;
It gazed in our eyes with a promise to pay,
And each Southern patriot believed it.
But our boys thought little of price or of pay,
Or of bills that were overdue ;
We knew if it brought us our bread to-day,
T was the best our poor country could do.
Keep it, it tells all our history o er,
From the birth of our dream till the last ;
Modest, and born of the angel Hope,
Like our hope of success, it passed.
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN 275
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN
[Abram Joseph Ryan was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1839.
He entered the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1861 and was a
chaplain in the Confederate army. After the war his service to his
church took him into almost every Southern state, his longest stay
in any one place being twelve years in Mobile, Alabama. During
this part of his life he busied himself with preaching, lecturing,
editing religious periodicals, and writing verse. Father Ryan died
in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1886.]
THE CONQUERED BANNER
Furl that Banner, for t is weary ;
Round its staff t is drooping dreary ;
Furl it, fold it, it is best ;
For there s not a man to wave it,
And there s not a sword to save it,
And there s not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it ;
And its foes now scorn and brave it ;
Furl it, hide it let it rest !
Take that Banner down ! t is tattered ;
Broken is its staff and shattered ;
And the valiant hosts are scattered
Over whom it floated high.
Oh ! t is hard for us to fold it ;
Hard to think there s none to hold it ;
Hard that those who once unrolled it
Now must furl it with a sigh.
Furl that Banner ! furl it sadly J
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
Swore it should forever wave ;
2/6 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Swore that foeman s sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag should float forever
O er their freedom or their grave !
Furl it ! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low ;
And that Banner it is trailing !
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.
For, though conquered, they adore it !
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it !
Weep for those who fell before it !
Pardon those who trailed and tore it !
But, oh ! wildly they deplore it,
Now who furl and fold it so.
Furl that Banner ! True, t is gory,
Yet t is wreathed around with glory,
And t will live in song and story,
Though its folds are in the dust :
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages
Furl its folds though now we must.
Furl that Banner, softly, slowly !
Treat it gently it is holy
For it droops above the dead.
Touch it not unfold it never,
Let it droop there, furled forever,
For its people s hopes are dead !
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN 277
THE SWORD OF ROBERT LEE
Forth from its scabbard, pure and bright,
Flashed the sword of Lee !
Far in the front of the deadly fight,
High o er the brave in the cause of Right,
Its stainless sheen, like a beacon light,
Led us to Victory.
Out of its scabbard, where, full long,
It slumbered peacefully.
Roused from its rest by the battle s song,
Shielding the feeble, smiting the strong,
Guarding the right, avenging the wrong,
Gleamed the sword of Lee.
Forth from its scabbard, high in air
Beneath Virginia s sky
And they who saw it gleaming there,
And knew who bore it, knelt to swear
That where that sword led they would dare
To follow and to die.
Out of its scabbard ! Never hand
Waved sword from stain as free,
Nor purer sword led braver band,
Nor braver bled for a brighter land,
Nor brighter land had a cause so grand,
Nor cause a chief like Lee !
Forth from its scabbard ! how we prayed
That sword might victor be;
And when our triumph was delayed,
278 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
And many a heart grew sore afraid,
We still hoped on while gleamed the blade
Of noble Robert Lee.
Forth from its scabbard all in vain
Forth flashed the sword of Lee ;
T is shrouded now in its sheath again,
It sleeps the sleep of our noble slain,
Defeated, yet without a stain,
Proudly and peacefully.
[Henry Timrod was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1 829.
On his father s side he was of German descent, and on his mother s,
of English. He was educated
in Charleston schools and in
the University of Georgia, but
was compelled to leave college
before taking his degree on
account of poverty. Returning
to Charleston, he prepared him
self for the practice of law, but
finding this distasteful, he be
gan to fit himself for a college
professorship. Failing to se
cure the position he sought, he
taught private classes for about
ten years. In the meantime he
was writing poetry and con
tributing his verse to the
Southern Literary Messenger
HENRY TIMROD *"* Xlatelrs ^" - A
volume of Timrod s verses was
published in Boston in 1860, but in the excitement of those times
did not attract widespread attention. At the outbreak of the war
HENRY TIMROD 2/9
Timrod enlisted, but finding his constitution too weak to undergo
the hardships of camp life, he contented himself with service as
army correspondent. In 1864 he accepted an appointment as editor
of the South Carolinian at Columbia. Feeling now settled, he mar
ried Miss Kate Goodwin, an English girl resident in Charleston.
But his happiness was of brief duration. Disease was making in
roads upon his frail body, the death of his young son added to his
sorrows, and the desolation of war rendered him destitute of property.
Consumption eventually overcame him, and in 1867 he was laid to
rest. Timrod wrote some beautiful and enduring lyrics dealing with
love and nature, but he most deeply stirred his generation by his
martial and patriotic poems. Hence his sobriquet, " The Laureate
of the Confederacy."]
The despot treads thy sacred sands,
Thy pines give shelter to his bands,
Thy sons stand by with idle hands,
He breathes at ease thy airs of balm,
He scorns the lances of thy palm ;
Oh ! who shall break thy craven calm,
Thy ancient fame is growing dim,
A spot is on thy garment s rim ;
Give to the winds thy battle hymn,
Call on thy children of the hill,
Wake swamp and river, coast and rill,
Rouse all thy strength and all thy skill,
1 The selections from Timrod are reprinted from the Memorial Edition
through the courtesy of the holder of the copyright, B. F. Johnson Publishing Co.
280 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Cite wealth and science, trade and art,
Touch with thy fire the cautious mart,
And pour thee through the people s heart,
Till even the coward spurns his fears,
And all thy fields and fens and meres
Shall bristle like thy palm with spears,
Hold up the glories of thy dead ;
Say how thy elder children bled,
And point to Eu taw s battle-bed,
Tell how the patriot s soul was tried,
And what his dauntless breast defied ;
How Rutledge ruled and Laurens died,
Cry ! till thy summons, heard at last,
Shall fall like Marion s bugle blast
Reechoed from the haunted Past,
I hear a murmur as of waves
That grope their way through sunless caves,
Like bodies struggling in their graves,
And now it deepens ; slow and grand
It swells, as, rolling to the land,
An ocean broke upon thy strand,
HENRY TIMROD 281
Shout ! let it reach the startled Huns !
And roar with all thy festal guns !
It is the answer of thy sons,
They will not wait to hear thee call ;
From Sachem s Head to Sumter s wall
Resounds the voice of hut and hall,
No ! thou hast not a stain, they say,
Or none save what the battle-day
Shall wash in seas of blood away,
Thy skirts indeed the foe may part,
Thy robe be pierced with sword and dart,
They shall not touch thy noble heart,
Ere thou shalt own the tyrant s thrall
Ten times ten thousand men must fall ;
Thy corpse may hearken to his call,
When, by thy bier, in mournful throngs
The women chant thy mortal wrongs,
T will be their own funereal songs,
From thy dead breast by ruffians trod
No helpless child shall look to God ;
All shall be safe beneath thy sod,
282 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Girt with such wills to do and bear,
Assured in right, and mailed in prayer,
Thou wilt not bow thee to despair,
Throw thy bold banner to the breeze !
Front with thy ranks the threatening seas
Like thine own proud armorial trees,
Fling down thy gauntlet to the Huns,
And roar the challenge from thy guns ;
Then leave the future to thy sons,
A CRY TO ARMS
Ho ! woodsmen of the mountain side !
Ho ! dwellers in the vales !
Ho ! ye who by the chafing tide
Have roughened in the gales !
Leave barn and byre, leave kin and cot,
Lay by the bloodless spade ;
Let desk, and case, and counter rot,
And burn your books of trade.
The despot roves your fairest lands ;
And till he flies or fears",
Your fields must grow but armed bands,
Your sheaves be sheaves of spears !
Give up to mildew and to rust
The useless tools of gain ;
And feed your country s sacred dust
With floods of crimson rain !
HENRY TIMROD 283
Come, with the weapons at your call
With musket, pike, or knife ;
He wields the deadliest blade of all
Who lightest holds his life.
The arm that drives its unbought blows
With all a patriot s scorn,
Might brain a tyrant with a rose,
Or stab him with a thorn.
Does any falter ? let him turn
To some brave maiden s eyes,
And catch the holy fires that burn
In those sublunar skies.
Oh ! could you like your women feel,
And in their spirit march,
A day might see your lines of steel
Beneath the victor s arch.
What hope, O God ! would not grow warm
When thoughts like these give cheer ?
The Lily calmly braves the storm,
And shall the Palm-tree fear ?
No ! rather let its branches court
The rack that sweeps the plain ;
And from the Lily s regal port
Learn how to breast the strain !
Ho ! woodsmen of the mountain side !
Ho ! dwellers in the vales !
Ho ! ye who by the roaring tide
Have roughened in the gales !
284 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Come ! flocking gayly to the fight,
From forest, hill, and lake ;
We battle for our Country s right,
And for the Lily s sake !
Calm as that second summer which precedes
The first fall of the snow,
In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds,
The City bides the foe.
As yet, behind their ramparts stern and proud,
Her bolted thunders sleep
Dark Sumter, like a battlemented cloud,
Looms o er the solemn deep.
No Calpe frowns from lofty cliff or scar
To guard the holy strand ;
But Moultrie holds in leash her dogs of war
Above the level sand.
And down the dunes a thousand guns lie couched,
Unseen, beside the flood
Like tigers in some Orient jungle crouched
That wait and watch for blood.
Meanwhile, through streets still echoing with trade,
Walk grave and thoughtful men,
Whose hands may one day wield the patriot s blade
As lightly as the pen.
HENRY TIMROD 285
And maidens, with such eyes as would grow dim
Over a bleeding hound,
Seem each one to have caught the strength of him
Whose sword she sadly bound.
Thus girt without and garrisoned at home,
Day patient following day,
Old Charleston looks from roof, and spire, and dome,
Across her tranquil bay.
Ships, through a hundred foes, from Saxon lands
And spicy Indian ports,
Bring Saxon steel and iron to her hands,
And Summer to her courts.
But still, along yon dim Atlantic line,
The only hostile smoke
Creeps like a harmless mist above the brine,
From some frail, floating oak.
Shall the Spring dawn, and she still clad in smiles,
And with an unscathed brow,
Rest in the strong arms of her palm-crowned isles,
As fair and free as now ?
We know not ; in the temple of the Fates
God has inscribed her doom :
And, all untroubled in her faith, she waits
The triumph or the tomb.
286 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Spring, with that nameless pathos in the air
Which dwells with all things fair,
Spring, with her golden suns and silver rain,
Is with us once again.
Out in the lonely woods the jasmine burns
Its fragrant lamps, and turns
Into a royal court with green festoons
The banks of dark lagoons.
In the deep heart of every forest tree
The blood is all aglee,
And there s a look about the leafless bowers
As if they dreamed of flowers.
Yet still on every side we trace the hand
Of Winter in the land,
Save where the maple reddens on the lawn,
Flushed by the season s dawn ;
Or where, like those strange semblances we find
That age to childhood bind,
The elm puts on, as if in Nature s scorn,
The brown of Autumn corn.
As yet the turf is dark, although you know
That, not a span below,
A thousand germs are groping through the gloom,
And soon will burst their tomb.
HENRY TIMROD 287
Already, here and there, on frailest stems
Appear some azure gems,
Small as might deck, upon a gala day,
The forehead of a fay.
In gardens you may note amid the dearth
The crocus breaking earth ;
And near the snowdrop s tender white and green,
The violet in its screen.
But many gleams and shadows need must pass
Along the budding grass,
And weeks go by, before the enamored South
Shall kiss the rose s mouth.
Still there s a sense of blossoms yet unborn
In the sweet airs of morn ;
One almost looks to see the very street
Grow purple at his feet.
At times a fragrant breeze comes floating by,
And brings, you know not why,
A feeling as when eager crowds await
Before a palace gate
Some wondrous pageant ; and you scarce would start,
If from a beech s heart,
A blue-eyed Dryad, stepping forth, should say,
" Behold me ! I am May ! "
Ah ! who would couple thoughts of war and crime
With such a blessed time !
Who in the west wind s aromatic breath
Could hear the call of Death !
288 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Yet not more surely shall the Spring awake
The voice of wood and brake,
Than she shall rouse, for all her tranquil charms,
A million men to arms.
There shall be deeper hues upon her plains
Than all her sunlit rains,
And every gladdening influence around,
Can summon from the ground.
Oh ! standing on this desecrated mold,
Methinks that I behold,
Lifting her bloody daisies up to God,
Spring kneeling on the sod,
And calling, with the voice of all her rills,
Upon the ancient hills
To fall and crush the tyrants and the slaves
Who turn her meads to graves.
THE COTTON BOLL
While I recline
At ease beneath
This immemorial pine,
Small sphere !
(By dusky fingers brought this morning here
And shown with boastful smiles),
I turn thy cloven sheath,
Through which the soft white fibers peer,
That, with their gossamer bands,
Unite, like love, the sea-divided lands,
And slowly, thread by thread,
HENRY TIMROD 289
Draw forth the folded strands,
Than which the trembling line,
By whose frail help yon startled spider fled
Down the tall spear grass from his swinging bed,
Is scarce more fine ;
And as the tangled skein
Unravels in my hands,
Betwixt me and the noonday light,
A veil seems lifted, and for miles and miles
The landscape broadens on my sight,
As, in the little boll, there lurked a spell
Like that which, in the ocean shell,
With mystic sound,
Breaks down the narrow walls that hem us round,
And turns some city lane
Into the restless main,
With all his capes and isles !
Which floats, as if at rest,
In those blue tracts above the thunder, where
No vapors cloud the stainless air,
And never sound is heard,
Unless at such rare time
When, from the City of the Blest,
Rings down some golden chime,
Sees not from his high place
So vast a cirque of summer space
As widens round me in one mighty field,
Which, rimmed by seas and sands,
Doth hail its earliest daylight in the beams
Of gray Atlantic dawns ;
And, broad as realms made up of many lands,
290 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Is lost afar
Behind the crimson hills and purple lawns
Of sunset, among plains which roll their streams
Against the Evening Star !
And lo !
To the remotest point of sight,
Although I gaze upon no waste of snow,
The endless field is white ;
And the whole landscape glows,
For many a shining league away,
With such accumulated light
As Polar lands would flash beneath a tropic day !
Nor lack there (for the vision grows,
And the small charm within my hands
More potent even than the fabled one,
Which oped whatever golden mystery
Lay hid in fairy wood or magic vale,
The curious ointment of the Arabian tale
Beyond all mortal sense
Doth stretch my sight s horizon, and I see,
Beneath its simple influence,
As if with Uriel s crown,
I stood in some great temple of the Sun,
And looked, as Uriel, down !)
Nor lack there pastures rich and fields all green
With all the common gifts of God,
For temperate airs and torrid sheen
) (^ Weave Edens of the sod ;
// J Through lands which look one sea of billowy gold
* X/ Broad rivers wind their devious ways :
f j A hundred isles in their embraces fold
^j / A hundred luminous bays ;
\ And through yon purple haze
HENRY TIMROD 291
Vast mountains lift their plumed peaks cloud-crowned ;
And, save where up their sides the plowman creeps,
An unhewn forest girds them grandly round,
In whose dark shades a future navy sleeps !
Ye Stars, which, though unseen, yet with me gaze
Upon this loveliest fragment of the earth !
Thou Sun, that kindlest all thy gentlest rays
Above it, as to light a favorite hearth !
Ye Clouds, that in your temples in the West
See nothing brighter than its humblest flowers !
And you, ye Winds, that on the ocean s breast
Are kissed to coolness ere ye reach its bowers !
Bear witness with me in my song of praise,
And tell the world that, since the world began,
No fairer land hath fired a poet s lays,
Or given a home to man !
But these are charms already widely blown !
His be the meed whose pencil s trace
Hath touched our very swamps with grace,
And round whose tuneful way
All Southern laurels bloom ;
The Poet of " The Woodlands," unto whom
Alike are known
The flute s low breathing and the trumpet s tone,
And the soft west wind s sighs ;
But who shall utter all the debt,
O land wherein all powers are met
That bind a people s heart,
The world doth owe thee at this day,
And which it never can repay,
Yet scarcely deigns to own !
Where sleeps the poet who shall fitly sing
The source wherefrom doth spring
2Q2 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE
That mighty commerce which, confined
To the mean channels of no selfish mart,
Goes out to every shore
Of this broad earth, and throngs the sea with ships
That bear no thunders ; hushes hungry lips
In alien lands ;
Joins with a delicate web remotest strands ;
And gladdening rich and poor,
Doth gild Parisian domes,
Or feed the cottage smoke of English homes,
And only bounds its blessings by mankind !
In offices like these, thy mission lies,
My Country ! and it shall not end
As long as rain shall fall and Heaven bend
In blue above thee ; though thy foes be hard
And cruel as their weapons, it shall guard
Thy hearth-stones as a bulwark ; make thee great
In white and bloodless state ;
And haply, as the years increase
Still working through its humbler reach
With that large wisdom which the ages teach
Revive the half -dead dream of universal peace !
As men who labor in that mine
Of Cornwall, hollowed out beneath the bed
Of ocean, when a storm rolls overhead,
Hear the dull booming of the world of brine
Above them, and a mighty muffled roar
Of winds and waters, yet toil calmly on,
And split the rock, and pile the massive ore,
Or carve a niche, or shape the arched roof ;
So I, as calmly, weave my woof
Of song, chanting the days to come,
Unsilenced, though the quiet summer air
HENRY TIMROD 293
Stirs with the bruit of battles, and each dawn
Wakes from its starry silence to the hum
Of many gathering armies. Still,
In that \ve sometimes hear,
Upon the Northern winds, the voice of woe
Not wholly drowned in triumph, though I know
The end must crown us, and a few brief years
Dry all our tears,