was there mourned in a symbolic way, but Whitman
spoke in a poignant, personal way in O Captain, my Captain,
which, partly on that account and partly because of its more conventional poetic form, has become much more popular.
Loftier in its flight is the ode recited by Lowell
at the Harvard
commemoration for her sons slain in battle.
The idealism of the poet there attained its most inspired utterance, and in particular the section on Lincoln
has been taken up by the whole Nation as the highest and truest characterization of the martyred President
The features thus commemorated, however, are not peculiar to our Civil War. There have been other occasions for the display of heroism, other fields where pathetic incidents call for tears, other conflicts where leaders have arisen whom whole nations have delighted to honor.
What is peculiar to the American Civil War
is the generous feeling of reconciliation—the spirit of nationality which has developed since the close of hostilities.
When once the battle was joined, the forces of common tradition and of common blood asserted themselves inevitably.
Numerous poems depicted scenes on the battlefield where sons of the same mother clutched each other in the death-grapple.
A Southern production, popular throughout the land, was John Reuben Thompson
's Music in Camp,
which in simple rimes pictured the soldiers of the recently contending hosts as hushed into silence by their recollections of home.
But it is a striking fact that, in the beginning of hostilities, the poems on the Southern
side were much more intense and inspired than those produced in the North
Only the fear of dissolution aroused in all its strength the latent devotion to the central Government.
Only then throughout the North
They closed the ledger and they stilled the loom,
The plough left rusting in the prairie farm;
They saw but ‘Union’ in the gathering gloom;
The tearless women helped the men to arm.