Herman Melville

(1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891 / New York City, New York)

Stonewall Jackson (Ascribed To A Virginian) - Poem by Herman Melville

One man we claim of wrought reknown
Which not the North shall care to slur;
A Modern lived who sleeps in death,
Calm as the marble Ancients are:
'Tis he whose life, though a vapor's wreath,
Was charged with the lightning's burning breath -
Stonewall, stormer of the war.

But who shall hymn the Roman heart?
A stoic he, but even more:
The iron will and lion thew
Were strong to inflict as to endure:
Who like him could stand, or pursue?
His fate the fatalist followed through;
In all his great soul found to do
Stonewall followed his star.

He followed his star on the Romney march
Through the sleet to the wintry war;
And he followed it on when he bowed the grain -
The Wind of the Shenandoah;
At Gaines's Mill in the giants' strain -
On the fierce forced stride to Manassas-plain,
Where his sword with thunder was clothed again,
Stonewall followed his star.

His star he followed athwart the flood
To Potomac's Northern shore,
When midway wading, his host of braves
'My Maryland!' loud did roar -
To red Antietam's field of graves,
Through mountain-passes, woods, and waves,
They followed their pagod with hymns and glaives,
For Stonewall followed a star.

Back it led him to Marye's slope,
Where the shock and the fame he bore;
And to green Moss-Neck it guided him -
Brief respite from throes of war:
To the laurel glade by the Wilderness grim,
Through climxed victory naught shall dim,
Even unto death it piloted him -
Stonewall followed his star.

Its lead he followed in gentle ways
Which never the valiant mar;
A cap we sent him. bestarred, to replace
The sun-scorched helm of war:
A fillet he made of the shining lace
Childhood's laughing brow to grace -
Not his was a goldsmith's star.

O, much of doubt in after days
Shall cling, as now, to the war;
Of the right and the wrong they'll still debate,
Puzzled by Stonewall's star:
'Fortune went with the North elate,'
'Ay, but the South had Stonewall's weight,
And he fell in the South's great war.'

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

Poem Edited: Wednesday, April 6, 2011

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