14 April 2011

In Memoriam

It's Poem in Your Pocket Day, as I learned from Magpie. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is out of fashion now among the Literati, but he was the first poet I got to know, because he's from Maine, whence my father hails, and he wrote a poem about some of my distant ancestors.

I'm tempted to post "An April Day," because it describes the lovely sunny weather we've had today. Yet my mood is bleak on this fair day, so instead, in memory of a colleague who left this world far too soon, I give you this:
A Nameless Grave

"A soldier of the Union mustered out,"
Is the inscription on an unknown grave
At Newport News, beside the salt-sea wave,
Nameless and dateless; sentinel or scout
Shot down in skirmish, or disastrous rout
Of battle, when the loud artillery drave
Its iron wedges through the ranks of brave
And doomed battalions, storming the redoubt.
Thou unknown hero sleeping by the sea
In thy forgotten grave! with secret shame
I feel my pulses beat, my forehead burn,
When I remember thou hast given for me
All that thou hadst, thy life, thy very name,
And I can give thee nothing in return.