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Battle of Stone River, Tennessee


A View from Oxford Cloisters.

(January, 1863.)


With Tewksbury and Barnet heath
In days to come the field shall blend,
The story dim and date obscure;
In legend all shall end.
Even now, involved in forest shade
A Druid-dream the strife appears,
The fray of yesterday assumes
The haziness of years.
In North and South still beats the vein
Of Yorkist and Lancastrian.

Our rival Roses warred for Sway--
For Sway, but named the name of Right;
And Passion, scorning pain and death,
Lent sacred fervor to the fight.
Each lifted up a broidered cross,
While crossing blades profaned the sign;
Monks blessed the fraticidal lance,
And sisters scarfs could twine.
Do North and South the sin retain
Of Yorkist and Lancastrian?

But Rosecrans in the cedarn glade,
And, deep in denser cypress gloom,
Dark Breckenridge, shall fade away
Or thinly loom.
The pale throngs who in forest cowed
Before the spell of battle's pause,
Forefelt the stillness that shall dwell
On them and on their wars.
North and South shall join the train
Of Yorkist and Lancastrian.

But where the sword has plunged so deep,
And then been turned within the wound
By deadly Hate; where Climes contend
On vasty ground--
No warning Alps or seas between,
And small the curb of creed or law,
And blood is quick, and quick the brain;
Shall North and South their rage deplore,
And reunited thrive amain
Like Yorkist and Lancastrian?


Herman Melville