Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1243. Roses of Memory
By Armistead Churchill Gordon
A ROSE’S crimson stain,
  A rose’s stainless white,
Fitly become the immortal slain
  Who fell in the great fight.
    When Armistead died amid his foes,        5
      Girt by the rebel cheer,
    God plucked a soul like a white rose
      In June time o’ the year.
The blood in Pickett’s heart
  Was of a ruddier hue        10
Than the reddest bloom whose petals part
  To welcome heaven’s dew.
    I think the fairest flowers that blow
      Should greet the life-stream shed
    In that historic long ago        15
      By this historic dead.
The immemorial years
  Such valor never knew
As poured a flood of crimson blood
  At Gettysburg with you.        20
    Living and dead, in faith the same,
      I see you on that height,
    Crowned with the rosy wreath of fame
      Won in the fatal fight.
Not these had made afraid        25
  King Arthur’s mystic sword—
Not Bayard’s most chivalric blade,
  Nor Gideon’s, for the Lord.
    Yours was the strain of high emprise,
      Yours the unfaltering faith,—        30
    The honor lofty as the skies,
      The duty strong as death.
When Douglas flung the heart
  Of Bruce amid his foes,
And said: “He leads. We do not part:        35
  I follow where he goes,”
    No mightier impulse stirred his soul
      Than that which up you height
    Moved you with Pickett toward the goal
      Of freedom in that fight.        40
The fair goal was not won,
  The famous fight was lost;
But never shone the all-seeing sun
  On more heroic host.
    Your deeds of mighty prowess shame        45
      All deeds of derring-do
    With which Time’s bloody pages flame.
      —Hail and farewell to you!
Unto the dead farewell!
  They are hid in the dark and cold;        50
And the broken shaft and the roses tell
  What is left of the tale untold.
    They are deaf to the martial music’s call
      Till a judgment dawn shall break,
    When the trumpet of Truth shall proclaim to all:        55
      “They perished for my sake!”
Let them be quiet here
  Where birds and blossoms be;—
And hail to you, who bring the tear
  And the rose of memory        60
    To water and deck each lowly grave
      Of those who in God’s sight
    With loyal hearts their hearts’ blood gave
      For the eternal right!
Alike for low and high        65
  The roses white and red:
For valor and honor cannot die,
  And they were of these dead.
    The private in his jacket of gray
      And the general with his star        70
    The Lord God knighted alike that day,
      In the red front of War.


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