MEMORIAL DAY (Formerly) DECORATION DAY 1895

DECORATION DAY.

Strong men fast asleep,
With coverlets wrought of clay,
Do soft dreams over you creep
Of friends who are here to-day?
Do you know, O men low lying
In the hard and chilly bed,
That we, the slowly dying,
Are giving a day to the dead?
Do you know that sighs for your deaths
Across our heart-strings play,
E’en from the last faint breaths
Of the sweet lipped month of May?
When you fell, at duty’s call,
Your fame it glittered high,
As leaves of the somber fall
Grow brighter, though they die;
Men of the silent bands,
Men of the half-told days,
Lift up your specter hands
And take our hearts bouquets.

Women whose rich graves deck
The work of strife’s red spade,
Shining wrecks of the wreck
This tempest of war has made,
You whose sweet, pure love
Round every suffering twined,
Whose hearts like the sky above
Bent o’er all human kind.
Who walked through hospital streets
‘Twixt white abodes of pain,
Counting the last heart beats
Of men who were slowly slain,
Whose deeds were so sweet and gracious,
Wherever your light feet trod,
That every step seemed precious,
As if it were that of God;
Whose eyes so divinely beamed,
Whose touch was so tender and true.
That the dying soldier dreamed
Of the purest love he knew.
O, martyrs of more than duty!
Sweet-hearted woman-braves!
Did you think in this day’s sad beauty
That we could forget your graves?

memorial_day1

Men who fell at a loss,
Who died ‘neath failure’s frown,
Who carried strife’s red cross
And gained not victory’s crown,
Whose long fight was so brave
That it won our sad applause,
Who sleep in a hero’s grave,
Though clutched by the corpse of a
Sleep sweet, with no misgiving,     [cause.
By bitter memories fed,
That we, your foes while living,
Can be your foes when dead.
Your fault shall not e’en be spoken—
You paid for it on the pall;
The shroud is forgiveness’ token,
And death makes saints of all.

Men of the dark-hued race,
Whose freedom meant—to die—
Who lie with pain wrought face
Upturned to the peaceful sky.
Whose day of jubilee,
So many years o’erdue,
Came—but only to be
A day of death to you.

Men who died in sight
Of the long-sought promised land.
Would that these flowers were bright
As your deeds are true and grand.
Boys, whose glossy hair
Grows gray in the age of the grave,
Who lie so humble there
Because you were strong and brave;
You whose lives cold set
Like a winter’s sun ill-timed,
Whose hearts ran down ere yet
The noon of your lives had chimed—

Do you know your fathers are near,
The wrecks of their pride to meet?
Do you know your mothers are here
To throw their hearts at your feet?
Do you know the maiden hovers
O’er you with bended knee.
Dreaming what royal lovers
Such lovers as you would be?
Ruins of youthful graces,
Strong buds crushed in the spring,
Lift up your phantom faces
And see the flowers we bring!

Sleep well, O sad-browed city!
Whatever may betide,
Not under a nation’s pity
But mid a nation’s pride.

The vines that round you clamber
Brightest shall be and best;
You sleep in the honor chamber,
Each one a royal guest.

And aye in realms of glory
Shine bright your starry claims—
Angels have heard your story,
And God knows all your names.
— Will Carleton

THE PATRIOTS REMEMBRANCES ON DECORATION (Memorial) DAY 1895

The Patriots Remembrances On Decoration Day, May 30, 1895

“Those were days ever to be remembered, when strong men stood in their fields and wept.”—H. Butlerworth.

field_cross

Sweet spring is in the air, good wife,
Bluer sky appears;
The robin sings the welcome note
He sung in other years.
Twelve times the spring has oped the rills,
Twelve times has autumn sighed
Since hung the war clouds o’er the hills
The year that Lincoln died.

The March wind early left the zone
For distant northern seas,
And wandering airs of gentle tone
Came to the door-yard trees;
And sadness in the dewy hours
Her reign extended wide
When spring retouched the hill with flowers
The year that Lincoln died.

We used to sit and talk of him,
Our long, long absent son;
We’d two to love us then, dear wife,
But now we have but one.
The springs return, the autumns burn,
His grave unknown beside;
They laid him neath the moss and fern
The year that Lincoln died.

One day I was among the flocks
That roamed the April dells,
When floating from the city
Came the sound of many bells,
The towns around caught up the sound,
I climbed the mountain side,
And saw the spires with banners crowned
The year that Lincoln died.

I knew what meant that sweet accord,
That jubilee of bells,
And sang an anthem to the Lord
Amid the pleasant dells.
But when I thought of those so young
That slept the farms beside
In undertones of joy I sung,
The year that Lincoln died.

And when the tidings came, dear wife,
Our soldier boy was dead,
I bowed my trembling knee in prayer,
You bowed your whitened head.
The house was still, the woods were calm.
And while you sobbed and cried
I sang alone the evening psalm
The year that Lincoln died.

I hung his picture ‘neath the shelf,
It still is hanging there;
I laid his ring where you yourself
Had put a curl of hair.
Then to the spot where willows wave
With hapless steps we hied,
And “Charley’s” called an empty grave,
The year that Lincoln died.

The years will come, the years will go,
But never at our door
The fair-haired boy we used to meet
Will smile upon us more.
But memory long will hear the fall
Of steps at eventide,
And every blooming year recall
The year that Lincoln died.

One day I was among the flocks
That roamed the April dells.
When at the noonday hour I heard
A tolling of the bells.
With heavy heart and footsteps slow
I climbed the mountain side
And saw the blue flag hanging low
The year that Lincoln died.

Ah! many a year, ah! many a year
The birds will cross the seas,
And blossoms fall in gentle showers
Beneath the door-yard trees;
And still will tender mothers weep
The soldiers’ grave beside,
And fresh in memory ever keep
The year that Lincoln died.

Where many sow the seed in tears
Shall many reap in joy.
And harvesters in golden years
Shall bless our darling boy.
With happy homes for other eyes
Expands the future wide;
And God will bless our sacrifice
The year that Lincoln died.
Butterworth’s Young Folk’s History of America.