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
 
Vicksburg
By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)
 
[Born in Charleston, S. C., 1830. Died at Copse Hill, Forest Station, Ga., 1886. From Poems. Complete Edition. 1882.]

FOR sixty days and upwards,
  A storm of shell and shot
Rained round us in a flaming shower,
  But still we faltered not.
“If the noble city perish,”        5
  Our grand young leader said,
“Let the only walls the foe shall scale
  Be ramparts of the dead!”
 
For sixty days and upwards,
  The eye of heaven waxed dim;        10
And e’en throughout God’s holy morn,
  O’er Christian prayer and hymn,
Arose a hissing tumult,
  As if the fiends in air
Strove to engulf the voice of faith        15
  In the shrieks of their despair.
 
There was wailing in the houses,
  There was trembling on the marts,
While the tempest raged and thundered,
  ’Mid the silent thrill of hearts;        20
But the Lord, our shield, was with us,
  And ere a month had sped,
Our very women walked the streets
  With scarce one throb of dread.
 
And the little children gambolled,        25
  Their faces purely raised,
Just for a wondering moment,
  As the huge bombs whirled and blazed;
Then turned with silvery laughter
  To the sports which children love,        30
Thrice-mailed in the sweet, instinctive thought
  That the good God watched above.
 
Yet the hailing bolts fell faster,
  From scores of flame-clad ships,
And about us, denser, darker,        35
  Grew the conflict’s wild eclipse,
Till a solid cloud closed o’er us,
  Like a type of doom and ire,
Whence shot a thousand quivering tongues
  Of forked and vengeful fire.        40
 
But the unseen hands of angels
  Those death-shafts warned aside,
And the dove of heavenly mercy
  Ruled o’er the battle tide;
In the houses ceased the wailing,        45
  And through the war-scarred marts
The people strode, with the step of hope,
  To the music in their hearts.
 
 
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