Stonewall Jackson

Albery Allson Whitman

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Defiant in the cannon's mouth,
I see a hero of the South,
Serene and tall;
So like a stonewall in the fray
He stands, that wond'ring legions say:
"He is a wall."

He heeded not the fierce onsets
From bristling fields of bayonets;
He heeded not
The thunder-tread of warring steeds,
But holds his men of daring deeds
Right on the spot.

And is it insanity?
Nay, this is but the gravity
Of that vast mind,
That, on his Southland's altar wrought
And forged the bolts of warrior thought
Of thunder-kind.

An eagle eye, a vulture's fight,
A stroke leonine in might;
The man was formed
For that resolving, deep inert
Which sprang stupendously alert,
And, sometimes, stormed.

And so, his mount to the charge,
Or led the columns small or large,
The victor rode;
Till over danger's castle moat,
And in the cannon's silenced throat,
His charger trode.

And so, with fierce far speed, or near
To right and left and on the rear,
His fury fell
Upon the foe too much to meet.
For Jackson's soul abhorred retreat,
Except from hell.

But comes the saddest at the last,
As sad as life's ideal past--
And, oh! how sad!
That, in his pride, the Stonewall fell
By hands of those he loved so well--
The best he had.

How sad that dark and cruel night
Should fold her mantle on the sight
Of those tried, true
And valiant men, who followed where
Their leader went, despising fear
And darkness, too!

But sometimes triumph is subline
The most when on the brink of time,
And his was so;
A shady shore beyond he sees,
And asks for rest beneath its trees,
And it was so.

And do you ask, can he whose sweat
Hath clods of weary slave toil wet,
The praises sing
Of one who fought to forget the chain
That manacles the human brain?
Do such a thing?

I answer, yes, if he who fought,
Fought bravely and believed he ought.
If that can be;
If manhood in the mighty test
Of mankind does its manliest

Then poet songs for him shall ring
And he shall live while poets sing;
And while he lives,
And God forgives,
The great peculiar martial star,
In old Virginia's crown of war,
Will be her Stonewall, proud and sad,
The bravest that she ever had.

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