Henry Abbey

(11 July 1842 - 7 June 1911 / Kingston, NY)

In Memory of General Grant


WHITE wings of commerce sailing far,
Hot steam that drives the weltering wheel,
Tamed lightning speeding on the wire,
Iron postman on the way of steel,—
These, circling all the world, have told
The loss that makes us desolate;
For we give back to dust this day
The God-sent man who saved the state.

When black the sky and dire with war,
When every heart was wrung with fear,
He rose serene, and took his place,
The great occasion’s mighty peer.
He smote armed opposition down,
He bade the storm and darkness cease,
And o’er the long-distracted land
Shone out the smiling sun of peace.

The famous captains of the past
March in review before the mind:
Some fought for glory, some for gold,
But most to yoke and rule mankind.
Not so the captain dead to-day,
For whom our half-mast banners wave:
He fought to keep the Union whole,
And break the shackles of the slave.

A silent man, in friendship true,
He made point-blank his certain aim,
And, born a stranger to defeat,
To steadfast purpose linked his name:
For while the angry flood of war
Surged down between its gloomy banks
He followed duty, with the mien
Of but a soldier in the ranks.

How well he wore white honor’s flower,
The gratitude and praise of men,
As General, as President,
And then as simple citizen!
He was a hero to the end:
The dark rebellion raised by Death
Against the Powers of Life and Light,
He battled hard, with failing breath.

O hero of Fort Donelson,
And wooded Shiloh’s frightful strife!
Sleep on! for honor loves the tomb
More than the garish ways of life.
Sleep on! sleep on! Thy wondrous life
Is freedom’s most illustrious page;
And fame shall loudly sound thy praise
In every clime, to every age.

Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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