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by William Cullen Bryant


Once this soft turf, this rivulet's sands,

Were trampled by a hurrying crowd,

And fiery hearts and armed hands

Encountered in the battle-cloud. -

Ah! never shall the land forget

How gushed the life-blood of her brave-

Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet,

Upon the soil they fought to save. -

Now all is calm, and fresh, and still;

Alone the chirp of flitting bird,

And talk of children on the hill,

And bell of wandering kine, are heard. -

No solemn host goes trailing by

The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain;

Men start not at the battle-cry,

Oh, be it never heard again! -

Soon rested those who fought; but thou

Who minglest in the harder strife

For truths which men receive not now,

Thy warfare only ends with life. -

A friendless warfare! lingering long

Through weary day and weary year,

A wild and many-weaponed throng

Hang on thy front, and flank, and rear. -

Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof,

And blench not at thy chosen lot.

The timid good may stand aloof,

The sage may frown- yet faint thou not. -

Nor heed the shaft too surely cast,

The foul and hissing bolt of scorn;

For with thy side shall dwell, at last,

The victory of endurance born. -

Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;

Th' eternal years of God are hers;

But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,

And dies among his worshippers. -

Yea, though thou lie upon the dust,

When they who helped thee flee in fear,

Die full of hope and manly trust,

Like those who fell in battle here. -

Another hand thy sword shall wield,

Another hand the standard wave,

Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed

The blast of triumph o'er thy grave. -