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Gettysburg


The Check.

(July, 1863.)


O pride of the days in prime of the months
  Now trebled in great renown,
When before the ark of our holy cause
    Fell Dagon down--
Dagon foredoomed, who, armed and targed,
Never his impious heart enlarged
Beyond that hour; god walled his power,
And there the last invader charged.

He charged, and in that charge condensed His all of hate and all of fire; He sought to blast us in his scorn, And wither us in his ire. Before him went the shriek of shells-- Aerial screamings, taunts and yells; Then the three waves in flashed advance Surged, but were met, and back they set: Pride was repelled by sterner pride, And Right is a strong-hold yet.

Before our lines it seemed a beach Which wild September gales have strown With havoc on wreck, and dashed therewith Pale crews unknown-- Men, arms, and steeds. The evening sun Died on the face of each lifeless one, And died along the winding marge of fight And searching-parties lone.

Sloped on the hill the mounds were green, Our center held that place of graves, And some still hold it in their swoon, And over these a glory waves. The warrior-monument, crashed in fight,* Shall soar transfigured in loftier light, A meaning ampler bear; Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer Have laid the stone, and every bone Shall rest in honor there.


* Among numerous head-stones or monuments on Cemetery Hill, marred or destroyed by the enemy's concentrated fire, was one, somewhat conspicuous, of a Federal officer killed before Richmond in 1862.

On the 4th of July 1865, the Gettysburg National Cemetery, on the same height with the original burial-ground, was consecrated, and the corner-stone laid of a commemorative pile.


Herman Melville