Margaret Junkin Preston

Dirge For Ashby

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Heard ye that thrilling word --
Accent of dread --
Fall, like a thunderbolt,
Bowing each head?
Over the battle dun,
Over each booming gun --
Ashby, our bravest one!
Ashby is dead!

Saw ye the veterans --
Hearts that had known
Never a quail of fear,
Never a groan --
Sob, though the fight they win,
Tears their stern eyes within --
Ashby, our Paladin,
Ashby is dead!

Dash, dash the tear away --
Crush down the pain!
Dulce et decus, be
Fittest refrain!
Why should the dreary pall,
Round him be flung at all?
Did not our hero fall
Gallantly slain?

Catch the last words of cheer,
Dropt from his tongue:
O'er the battle's din,
Let them be rung!
"Follow me! follow me!"
Soldier, oh! could there be
Paean or dirge for thee,
Loftier sung?

Bold as the lion's heart --
Dauntlessly brave --
Knightly as knightliest;
Bayard might crave;
Sweet, with all Sydney's grace,
Tender as Hampden's face,
Who now shall fill the space,
Void by his grave?

'Tis not one broken heart,
Wild with dismay --
Crazed in her agony,
Weeps o'er his clay!
Ah! From a thousand eyes,
Flow the pure tears that rise --
Widowed Virginia lies
Stricken today!

Yet charge as gallantly,
Ye, whom he led!
Jackson, the victor, still
Leads at your head!
Heroes! be battle done
Bravelier, every one
Nerved by the thought alone --
Ashby is dead!

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Margaret Junkin Preston