When the guns were loud in July;
And the flash of the musketry's light
Was sped by a ray from God's eye.
In its good and its evil the scheme
Was framed with omnipotent hand,
Though the battle of men was a dream
That they could but half understand.
Can the purpose of God pass by him?
Nay; it was sure, and was wrought
Under inscrutable powers:
Bravely the two armies fought
And left the land, that was greater than they, still theirs and ours!
Lucid, pure, and calm and blameless
Dawned on Gettysburg the day
That should make the spot, once fameless,
Known to nations far away.
Birds were caroling, and farmers
Gladdened o'er their garnered hay,
When the clank of gathering armors
Broke the morning's peaceful sway;
And the living lines of foemen
Drawn o'er pasture, brook, and hill,
Formed in figures weird of omen
That should work with mystic will
Measures of a direful magic-
Shattering, maiming—and should fill
Glades and gorges with a tragic
Madness of desire to kill.
Skirmishers flung lightly forward
Moved like scythemen skilled to sweep
Westward o'er the field and nor'ward,
Death's first harvest there to reap.
You would say the soft, white smoke-puffs
Were but languid clouds asleep,
Here on meadows, there on oak-bluffs,
Fallen foam of Heaven's blue deep.
Yet that blossom-white outbreaking
Smoke wove soon a martyr's shroud.
Reynolds fell, with soul unquaking,
Ardent-eyed and open-browed:
Noble men in humbler raiment
Fell where shot their graves had plowed,
Dying not for paltry payment:
Proud of home, of honor proud.