A Dirge For McPherson

Herman Melville

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Killed in front of Atlanta (July, 1864)

Arms reversed and banners craped --
Muffled drums;
Snowy horses sable-draped --
McPherson comes.

But, tell us, shall we know him more,
Lost-Mountain and lone Kenesaw?

Brave the sword upon the pall --
A gleam in gloom;
So a bright name lighteth all
McPherson's doom.

Bear him through the chapel-door --
Let priest in stole
Pace before the warrior
Who led. Bell --toll!

Lay him down within the nave,
The lesson read --
Man is noble, man is brave,
But man's -- a weed.

Take him up again and wend
Graveward, nor weep:
There's a trumpet that shall rend
This Soldier's sleep.

Pass the ropes the coffin round,
And let descend;
Prayer and volley -- let it sound
McPherson's end.

True fame is his, for life is o'er --
Sarpedon of the mighty war.

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  • TiltedDylan

    This is a deeply poignant piece, encapsulating the sense of loss and sorrow that comes from war. It reflects the harsh reality of mortality while valuing the courage and nobility demonstrated by those lost in battle. It also highlights the enduring influence of a respected figure, in spite of their passing. For me, it's a truly moving tribute, not only to an individual, but to all fallen soldiers.