Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Decoration
By Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911)
 
“Manibus o date lilia plenis.”

’MID the flower-wreathed tombs I stand
Bearing lilies in my hand.
Comrades! in what soldier-grave
Sleeps the bravest of the brave?
 
Is it he who sank to rest        5
With his colors round his breast?
Friendship makes his tomb a shrine;
Garlands veil it; ask not mine.
 
One low grave, yon trees beneath,
Bears no roses, wears no wreath;        10
Yet no heart more high and warm
Ever dared the battle-storm,
 
Never gleamed a prouder eye
In the front of victory,
Never foot had firmer tread        15
On the field where Hope lay dead,
 
Than are hid within this tomb,
Where the untended grasses bloom;
And no stone, with feigned distress,
Mocks the sacred loneliness.        20
 
Youth and beauty, dauntless will,
Dreams that life could ne’er fulfil,
Here lie buried; here in peace
Wrongs and woes have found release.
 
Turning from my comrades’ eyes,        25
Kneeling where a woman lies,
I strew lilies on the grave
Of the bravest of the brave.

  NEWPORT, R. I., Decoration Day, 1878.
 
 
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