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Poem by Paul Hamilton Hayne

A Plea for the Gray

WHEN the land's martyr, mid her tears,
Outbreathed his latest breath,
The discord of long, festering years,
Lay also dumb in death:
Our souls a new-born friendship drew
With spells of kindliest sway;
At last, at last, the conquering Blue
Blent with the vanquished Gray!

Yet, who thro' this south-land of ours,
While faith and love are free,
But still must cast memorial flowers
Across the grave of Lee?
And oft their ancient grief renew
O'er "Stonewall's" cherished clay?
The heart that's pledged to guard the Blue
Must honor still the Gray!
O veterans of Potomac's flood,
Or Vicksburg's lurid sky,
Old passions may be purged of blood,
Old memories cannot die!
They fill your eyes with fiery dew,
Revive your manhood's May,
And past the bright victorious Blue,
Bring back the stainless Gray!

O martyrs of the desperate fight,
All weak and broken now,
With shattered nerves, or blasted sight,
Frail arms and furrowed brow!
What think ye of the patriot view
Flashed on your minds to-day?
Too old to don the prosperous Blue,
Ye clasp your tattered Gray!

From many a worn and wasted mound,
And dust-encumbered clod,
The voices of dead heroes sound,
Rising from earth to God!
"Our doom was dark, our lives were true,
Ah! cast not quite away,
What time ye hail the favored Blue--
Old dreams that crowned the Gray!"

Can honor in his sacred grave
Less fair and glorious be?
Can faith on fortune's fickle wave,
Change with the changeful sea?
Beware lest what ye rashly do
Should end in shamed dismay,
And all pure champions of the Blue,
Scorn traitors to the Gray!

Paul Hamilton Hayne

Paul Hamilton Hayne's other poems:
  1. Too Oft the Poet in Elaborate Verse
  2. The Laughing Hours before Her Feet
  3. A Phantom in the Clouds
  4. O God! What Glorious Seasons Bless Thy World!
  5. A New Version of Why the RobinТs Breast Is Red

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