The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

45
Forgotten

Paul Hamilton Hayne

Forgotten! Can it be a few swift rounds
Of Time's great chariot wheels have crushed to naught
The memory of those fearful sights and sounds,
With speechless misery fraught --
Wherethro'we hope to gain the Hesperian height,
Where Freedom smiles in light?

Forgotten! scarce have two dim autumns veiled
With merciful mist those dreary burial sods,
Whose coldness (when the high-strung pulses failed,
Of men who strove like gods)
Wrapped in a sanguine fold of senseless dust
Dead hearts and perished trust!

Forgotten! While in far-off woodland dell,
By lonely mountain tarn and murmuring stream,
Bereavèd hearts with sorrowful passion swell --
Their lives one ghastly dream
Of hope outwearied and betrayed desire,
And anguish crowned with tire!

Forgotten! while our manhood cursed with chains,
And pilloried high for all the world to view,
Writhes in its fierce, intolerable pains,
Decked with dull wreaths of rue,
And shedding blood for tears, hands waled with scars,
Lifts to the dumb, cold stars!

MARGARET T. PRESTON, ed., Poems of Paul Hamilton Hayne ( Boston, 1882), p. 86.

In 1867, the Southern poet predicted that the memory of the central epoch in American History would remain for a thousand years.

-525-

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