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Ode for decoration day

One of the earliest poems of its class, this selection from Peterson's ode manifests a spirit as admirable as it is now general.


O gallant brothers of the generous South,
Foes for a day and brothers for all time!
I charge you by the memories of our youth,
By Yorktown's field and Montezuma's clime,
Hold our dead sacred—let them quietly rest
In your unnumbered vales, where God thought best.
Your vines and flowers learned long since to forgive,
And o'er their graves a broidered mantle weave:
Be you as kind as they are, and the word
Shall reach the Northland with each summer bird,
And thoughts as sweet as summer shall awake
Responsive to your kindness, and shall make
Our peace the peace of brothers once again,
And banish utterly the days of pain.

And ye, O Northmen! be ye not outdone
In generous thought and deed.
We all do need forgiveness, every one;
And they that give shall find it in their need.
Spare of your flowers to deck the stranger's grave,
Who died for a lost cause:—
A soul more daring, resolute, and brave,
Ne'er won a world's applause.
A brave man's hatred pauses at the tomb.
For him some Southern home was robed in gloom,
Some wife or mother looked with longing eyes
Through the sad days and nights with tears and sighs,
Hope slowly hardening into gaunt Despair.
Then let your foeman's grave remembrance share:
Pity a higher charm to Valor lends,
And in the realms of Sorrow all are friends.

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Montezuma, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)

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Henry Peterson (2)
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