Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Western States: Big Horn, the River, Montana Ter.
Custer
Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)
 
    WHAT! shall that sudden blade
              Leap out no more?
        No more thy hand be laid
      Upon the sword-hilt, smiting sore?
              O for another such        5
        The charger’s rein to clutch,—
    One equal voice to summon victory,
        Sounding thy battle-cry,
    Brave darling of the soldiers’ choice!
        Would there were one more voice!        10
 
        O gallant charge, too bold!
        O fierce, imperious greed
To pierce the clouds that in their darkness hold
        Slaughter of man and steed!
                Now, stark and cold,        15
    Among thy fallen braves thou liest,
    And even with thy blood defiest
                The wolfish foe:
              But ah, thou liest low,
    And all our birthday song is hushed indeed!        20
 
        Young lion of the plain,
        Thou of the tawny mane!
    Hotly the soldiers’ hearts shall beat,
        Their mouths thy death repeat,
    Their vengeance seek the trail again        25
        Where thy red doomsmen be;
    But on the charge no more shall stream
    Thy hair,—no more thy sabre gleam,—
        No more ring out thy battle-shout,
                Thy cry of victory!        30
 
        Not when a hero falls
        The sound a world appalls:
        For while we plant his cross
    There is a glory, even in the loss:
        But when some craven heart        35
        From honor dares to part,
    Then, then, the groan, the blanching cheek,
        And men in whispers speak,
    Nor kith nor country dare reclaim
        From the black depths his name.        40
 
        Thou, wild young warrior, rest,
    By all the prairie winds caressed!
        Swift was thy dying pang;
        Even as the war-cry rang
    Thy deathless spirit mounted high        45
        And sought Columbia’s sky:—
        There, to the northward far,
          Shines a new star,
        And from it blazes down
        The light of thy renown!        50
 
 
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