The Burial of Latane
The combat ranged not long, but our's the day; And through the hosts that compassed us around Our little band rode proudly on its way, Leaving one gallant comrade, glory-crowned, Unburied on the field he died to gain, Single of all his men amid the hostile slain. One moment on the battle's edhe he stood, Hope's halo like a helmet round his hair, The next beheld him, dabbled in his blood, Prostrate in death, and yet in death how fair! Even thus he passed through the red gate of strife, From earthly crowns and palms to an immortal life. A brother bore his body from the field And gave it unto stranger's hands that closed The calm, blue eyes on earth forever sealed, And tenderly the slender limbs composed: Strangers, yet sisters, who with Mary's love, Sat by the open tomb and weeping looked above. A little child strewed roses on his bier, Pale roses, not more stainless than his soul. Nor yet more fragrant than his life sincere That blossomed with good actions, brief, but whole: The aged matron and the faithful slave Approached with reverent feet the hero's lowly grave. No man of God might say the burial rite Above the "rebel"—thus declared the foe That blanched before him in the deadly fight. But woman's voice, in accents soft and low, Trembling with pity, touched with pathos, read Over his hallowed dust the ritual for the dead. "'Tis sown in weakness, it is raised in power," Softly the promise floated on the air, And the sweet breathings of the sunser hour Came back responsive to the mourner's prayer; Gently they laid him underneath the sod, And left him with his fame, his country, and his God. Let us not weep for him whose deeds endure, So young, so brave, so beautiful, he died; As he had wished to die; the past is sure, Whatever yet of sorrow may betide Those who still linger by the stormy shore, Change cannot harm him now nor fortune touch him more. And when Virginia, leaning on her spear, Victrix et vidua; the conflict done, Shall raise her mailed hand to wipe the tear That starts as she recalls each martyred son, No prouder memory her breast shall sway, Than thine, our early-lost, lamented Latane.
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