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Ode to the Confederate soldiers' monument in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C.

Dedicated to the Ladies' Memorial Association, of Wilmington, N. C.

By General R. E. Colston.
This Ode was delivered at the Anniversary Supper of the 3rd Regiment Association, on May 10, 1872, in reply to the second regular toast:

‘Our dead.’

Erect upon a granite base
     He looks toward the glowing West;
How stern and sad his noble face,
     How watchful!—thoa he stands at rest.

He seems to scan with steadfast gaze
     The foeman's dark'ning line of blue;
Does he perceive across the haze
     The glancing bay'nets flashing through?

One hand with ev'ry clinched nerve
     Grips hard the gun o'er which he bends;
The other hangs in graceful curve
     Which rounds the sinewy fingers' ends.

Behold!—no carpet-knight is he,
     His manly grace is Nature's own;
In ev'ry feature one may see
     The light that's caught from battle alone.

His garments rough are old and worn,
     Hard used the shoes upon his feet,
That belt and cartridge-box were borne
     In many a victory and retreat.

Upon this soldier's stalwart form
     No stars, no bars to mark his grade,
And on his modest uniform
     Not ev'n an humble worsted braid.

He's but a private!—All unknown,
     He gives his strength, his blood, his life,
Content to fall, obscure, alone,
     Unheeded in the deadly strife.

[353] What flag, what State his fealty claim?
     ‘C. S.’ upon his belting's plate,
N. C.’ upon his cap, proclaim
     The soldier of the ‘Old North State.’

Oh who stands here? Whose image this,
     Instinct with life thoa cast in bronze?—
The type so true, so vivid is
     That ev'ry heart at once responds:

I ought to know, I've seen that face,
     In fight, on march, by bivouac's flame,
Thoa now I can't recall the place,
     Nor who he was, nor what his name.

Yet sure, I know that shape, that head,
     Like half-forgotten friends they seem;
No doubt he's numbered with the dead,
     But I have seen him,—'tis no dream.

O triumph of the Sculptor's skill
     Which thus could strike the magic chord,
And cause the Southern heart to thrill
     And stir once more its mem'ries' hoard!

This man of bronze, we know right well,
     We greet his grave, familiar face,
And thus, we do confess the spell
     Of genius,—king of time and space.

For in this wondrous work of Art
     A form was giv'n by plastic hand
To the ideal of our heart,
     The soldier-type of Southern land!

And in this pile that towers above
     And lifts its crest toward the sky,
Forever shine true woman's love
     And constant faith which ne'er can die.

O soldier of perennial bronze
     Erect upon the granite gray,
Stand at thy post, till from Death's bonds
     Thy comrades burst, on Judgment Day.

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Wilmington, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (2)

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Raleigh Edward Colston (1)
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May 10th, 1872 AD (1)
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