I Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand I saw a Banner in gladsome air— Starry, like Berenice's Hair— Afloat in broadened bravery there; With undulating long-drawn flow, As rolled Brazilian billows go Voluminously o'er the Line. The Land reposed in peace below; The children in their glee Were folded to the exulting heart Of young Maternity. II Later, and it streamed in fight When tempest mingled with the fray, And over the spear-point of the shaft I saw the ambiguous lightning play. Valor with Valor strove, and died: Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride; And the lorn Mother speechless stood, Pale at the fury of her brood. III Yet later, and the silk did wind Her fair cold for; Little availed the shining shroud, Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm A watcher looked upon her low, and said— She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead. But in that sleep contortion showed The terror of the vision there— A silent vision unavowed, Revealing earth's foundation bare, And Gorgon in her hidden place. It was a thing of fear to see So foul a dream upon so fair a face, And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud. IV But from the trance she sudden broke— The trance, or death into promoted life; At her feet a shivered yoke, And in her aspect turned to heaven No trace of passion or of strife— A clear calm look. It spake of pain, But such as purifies from stain— Sharp pangs that never come again— And triumph repressed by knowledge meet, Power delicate, and hope grown wise, And youth matured for age's seat— Law on her brow and empire in her eyes. So she, with graver air and lifted flag; While the shadow, chased by light, Fled along the far-brawn height, And left her on the crag.
Herman Melville - 1819-1891
O Pride of the days in prime of the months Now trebled in great renown, When before the ark of our holy cause Fell Dagon down- Dagon foredoomed, who, armed and targed, Never his impious heart enlarged Beyond that hour; God walled his power, And there the last invader charged. He charged, and in that charge condensed His all of hate and all of fire; He sought to blast us in his scorn, And wither us in his ire. Before him went the shriek of shells- Aerial screamings, taunts and yells; Then the three waves in flashed advance Surged, but were met, and back they set: Pride was repelled by sterner pride, And Right is a strong-hold yet. Before our lines it seemed a beach Which wild September gales have strown With havoc on wreck, and dashed therewith Pale crews unknown- Men, arms, and steeds. The evening sun Died on the face of each lifeless one, And died along the winding marge of fight And searching-parties lone. Sloped on the hill the mounds were green, Our centre held that place of graves, And some still hold it in their swoon, And over these a glory waves. The warrior-monument, crashed in fight, Shall soar transfigured in loftier light, A meaning ampler bear; Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer Have laid the stone, and every bone Shall rest in honor there.