James Madison Bell


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Wherefore half-mast and waving sadly
And seeming ill-disposed to move,
Are those bright emblems which so gladly
Were wont to wave our homes above?
And why is all this lamentation?
And why those outward signs of woe?
And why is this all-glorious nation
Thus in her hour of hope bowed low?

Wherefore those marks of grief and sorrow
So visible on every face?
To what foul deed of bloody horror
Do all those gloomy signs retrace?
Aback to the walls and lofty spire!
Back to the Nation's Halls of State!
Back to our country's bleeding sire!
Back to our dying Magistrate!

We know not why God has permitted
This tragic scene, this bloody deed;
An act so seemingly unfitted,
In this auspicious hour of need.
Though none perhaps may the intention,
Or the wonderous purpose tell,
Of this direful life-suspension --
Yet God, the Lord, doeth all things well!

Our Nation's Father has been murdered!
Our Nation's Chieftain has been slain!
By traitorous hands most basely ordered;
And we, his children, feel the pain.
Our pain is mixed with indignation,
Our sorrow is not purely grief,
And nothing short of a libation
From Treason's heart can bring relief.

And we, in sight of earth and heaven,
On bended knee, with lifted hand,
Swear as we hope to be forgiven,
To drive foul Treason from the land!
And that fair land so long polluted
By the sweat of unpaid toil,
Shall be by liberty uprooted,
And thickly spread with freedom's soil.

Thus we'll avenge the death of Lincoln,
His noble principles maintain,
Till every base inhuman falcon
Is swept from freedom's broad domain;
Until from tower and from turret,
From mountain height and prairie wide,
One flag shall wave -- and freedom's spirit
In peace and love o'er all preside.

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James Madison Bell