Monday, May 28, 2012

Decoration Day by H.W. Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.
But in this Camp of Death

No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath.
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;

The shouts of battle cease,
It is the truce of God!
Flag on my front porch
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep

Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been.
The memory shall be ours.

 Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Decoration Day.” Columbia Granger's World of Poetry Online. 2012. Columbia University Press. 28 May. 2012. .
I found this poem by typing "Memorial Day" into the search box of 'Columbia Grangers World of Poetry', an online poetry resource available from the library's "Databases and Articles" page. In the U.S., Memorial Day was commonly called 'Decoration Day' until 1967. Searching Grangers yielded 70 poems, many full text. 
Watching '60 Minutes' tribute "Honoring Our Soldiers" last night put a human face on the wars the U.S. is waging now.  As the young soldiers struggled to describe their experiences, I thought about how poets, artists and authors have also attempted to express the feelings that wars evoke.

No comments: