A Poem for the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg

I’ve posted before about last fall’s LibriVox project, in which students in my poetry class recorded an audiobook of Herman Melville’s Civil War poems, Battle-Pieces.


Today is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, so it seems timely to offer another sneak peak (or sneak eavesdrop, I guess) of the poem “Gettysburg” read by Daniel Padilla.


Click here to hear “Gettysburg.”


The Check
(July, 1863)

O pride of the days in prime of the months
  Now trebled in great renown,
When before the ark of our holy cause
    Fell Dagon down—
Dagon foredoomed, who, armed and targed,
Never his impious heart enlarged
Beyond that hour; god walled his power,
And there the last invader charged.
He charged, and in that charge condensed
  His all of hate and all of fire;
He sought to blast us in his scorn,
    And wither us in his ire.
Before him went the shriek of shells—
Aerial screamings, taunts and yells;
Then the three waves in flashed advance
  Surged, but were met, and back they set:
Pride was repelled by sterner pride,
  And Right is a strong-hold yet.
Before our lines it seemed a beach
  Which wild September gales have strown
With havoc on wreck, and dashed therewith
    Pale crews unknown—
Men, arms, and steeds. The evening sun
Died on the face of each lifeless one,
And died along the winding marge of fight
    And searching-parties lone.
Sloped on the hill the mounds were green,
  Our center held that place of graves,
And some still hold it in their swoon,
  And over these a glory waves.
The warrior-monument, crashed in fight,
Shall soar transfigured in loftier light,
    A meaning ampler bear;
Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer
Have laid the stone, and every bone
    Shall rest in honor there.

Read the rest of Melville’s Battle-Pieces at Project Gutenberg.


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