John Greenleaf Whittier

The Battle Autumn of 1862

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The flags of war like storm birds fly,
The charging trumpets blow;
Yet rolls no thunder in the sky,
No earthquake strives below.

And, calm and patient, Nature keeps
Her ancient promises well,
Though o'er her bloom and greenness sweeps,
The battle's breath of hell.

And still she walks in golden hours,
Through harvest-happy farms,
And still she wears her fruits and flowers
Like jewels on her arms.

What means the gladness of the plain,
This joy of eve and morn,
The mirth that shakes the bread of grain
And yellow locks of corn?

Ah! eyes may well be full of tears,
And hearts with hate are hot;
But even-paced come round the years,
And nature changes not.

She meets with smiles our bitter grief,
With songs our groans of pain;
She mocks with tints of flowers and leaf,
The war-field's crimson stain.

Still, in the cannon's pause, we hear
Her sweet thanksgiving psalm;
Too near to God for doubt or fear,
She shares the eternal calm.

She knows the seed lies safe below
The fires that blast and burn;
For all the tears of blood we sow
She waits the rich return.

She sees with clearer eye than ours
The good of suffering born,
The hearts that blossom like her flowers
And ripen like her corn.

Oh, give to us, in times like these,
The vision of her eyes;
And make her fields and fruited trees
Our golden prophecies.

Oh, give to us her finer ear;
Above this stormy din,
We, too, would hear the bells of cheer
Ring peace and freedom in.

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