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Lee—a poem.

By Major H. T. Staunton, of Frankfort, Ky.
We saw the fragile maiden, May,
     Trip down the paths of morning,
And queen July in central day,
     Her flower throne adorning.

And weeping trees in sombre lines
     Took up an anthem murmur,
When August, with her trailing vines,
     Went out her gates of Summer.

Now yellow husks are on the grain,
     And leaves are brown and sober, [88]
And sundown clouds have caught again
     The flush of ripe October.

We hear the woody hill-tops croon,
     The airy maize-blades whisper,
The year is in its afternoon,
     And leaf-bells ring the vesper.

What is it gives this gloaming song,
     Its melancholy feature?
What is it makes our souls prolong
     This monotone of nature?

What tearful grief is in our hearts—
     What swaying under-reason?
What sorrow real now imparts
     Its spirits to the season?

The crisping leaves may shoal the ways,
     The sun turn down the heavens—
Still all the years have fading days,
     And all the days have evens.

Enough—whatever else may be—
     That in this Autumn weather,
The verdure of the world and Lee
     Have silent fled together.

So prone are men where'er they move
     To tread the ways of evil,
They seldom hold their kind above
     A common grade and level.

But Lee, beside his fellowmen,
     Stood, over all, a giant—
The higher type—the perfect plan—
     God fearing, God reliant.

A giant not alone in fields
     Where bent the sanguine Reaper,
Where death threw o'er his harvest-yields
     An autumn crimson deeper;

But with the iron strength of will
     He sought his life to fashion,
He held his ruder pulses still
     And closed the gates of passion.

[89] There have been men whose mighty deeds,
     On cold historic pages,
Are driven like October seeds
     Along the reaching ages;

Whose statues stand like sentinels
     On whitened shafts and bases,
Whose ashes rest in marble cells
     And sepulchers and vases;

But he who in this Autumn time
     Was lost beyond the river,
Has found a glory path to climb,
     Forever and forever!

And monumental marble here,
     With deeds of honor graven,
What can it be to one so near
     The inner gates of Heaven?

By still Potomac's margin dun,
     Where shrilly calls the plover,
Where lean the heights of Arlington
     Its glassing water over.

No Autumn voices haunt the moles,
     No breezy covert ripples,
No longer whirl the leaves in shoals
     Beneath the stately maples:

Some vandal's axe has shorn the crest,
     The woody slopes are shaven,
No longer builds the dove her nest
     Where mournful croaks the raven;

But down the Southland's fruity plain
     The leaves are all a-quiver,
And there his memory shall reign
     Forever and forever!

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