poet Henry Timrod

Henry Timrod

#378 on top 500 poets

Ripley

Rich in red honors, that upon him lie
As lightly as the Summer dews
Fall where he won his fame beneath the sky
Of tropic Vera Cruz;

Bold scorner of the cant that has its birth
In feeble or in failing powers;
A lover of all frank and genial mirth
That wreathes the sword with flowers;

He moves amid the warriors of the day,
Just such a soldier as the art
That builds its trophies upon human clay
Moulds of a cheerful heart.

I see him in the battle that shall shake,
Ere long, old Sumter's haughty crown,
And from their dreams of peaceful traffic wake
The wharves of yonder town;

As calm as one would greet a pleasant guest,
And quaff a cup to love and life,
He hurls his deadliest thunders with a jest,
And laughs amid the strife.

Yet not the gravest soldier of them all
Surveys a field with broader scope;
And who behind that sea-encircled wall
Fights with a loftier hope?

Gay Chieftain! on the crimson rolls of Fame
Thy deeds are written with the sword;
But there are gentler thoughts which, with thy name,
Thy country's page shall hoard.

A nature of that rare and happy cast
Which looks, unsteeled, on murder's face;
Through what dark scenes of bloodshed hast thou passed,
Yet lost no social grace?

So, when the bard depicts thee, thou shalt wield
The weapon of a tyrant's doom,
Round which, inscribed with many a well-fought field,
The rose of joy shall bloom.

Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004

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