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The brave heads late lifted are solemnly bowed,
As the riderless chargers stand quivering and cowed,
As the burial requiem is chanted aloud,
The groans of the death-stricken drowning;
While victory looks on like a queen pale and proud,
Who awaits' till the morning her crowning.
There is no mocking blazon, as clay sinks to clay;
The vain pomp of peace-time are all swept away
In the terrible face of the dread battle-day;
Nor coffins nor shroudings are here;
Only relics that lay where thickest the fray--
A rent casque and a headless spear.
Far away, tramp on tramp, peals the march of the foe,
Like a storm-wave retreating, spent fitful and slow,
With sound like their spirits that faint as they go
By the red glowing river, whose waters
Shall darken with sorrow the land where they flow
To the eyes of her desolate daughters.
They are fled — they are gone; but oh I not as they came;
In the pride of those numbers they staked on the game,
Nevermore shall they stand in the vanguard of fame,
Never lift the stained sword which they drew;
Nevermore shall they boast of a glorious name,
Never march with the leal and the true.
Where the wreck of our legions lay stranded and torn,
They stole on our ranks in the midst of the morn;
Like the giant of Gaza, their strength it was shorn,
Ere those mists have rolled up to the sky;
From the flash of the steel a new day-break seemed born,
As we sprung up to conquer or die.
The tumult is silenced; the death lots are cast;
And the heroes of battle are slumbering their last:
Do you dream of yon pale form that rode on the blast?
Would ye free it once more, 0 ye brave!
Yes, the broad road to Honor is red where ye passed,
And of glory ye asked-but a grave!
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