Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
August 5
Sheridan
By Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)
 
          General Philip Sheridan died August 5, 1888.

    QUIETLY, like a child
    That sinks in slumber mild,
No pain or troubled thought his well-earned peace to mar,
Sank into endless rest our thunderbolt of war.
 
    Though his power to smite        5
    Quick as the lightning’s light,—
His single arm an army, and his name a host,—
Not his the love of blood, the warrior’s cruel boast.
 
    But in the battle’s flame
    How glorious he came!—        10
Even like a white-combed wave that breaks and tears the shore,
While wreck lies strewn behind, and terror flies before.
 
    ’Twas he,—his voice, his might,—
    Could stay the panic-flight,
Alone shame back the headlong, many-leagued retreat,        15
And turn to evening triumph morning’s foul defeat.
 
    He was our modern Mars;
    Yet firm his faith that wars
Ere long would cease to vex the sad, ensanguined earth,
And peace forever reign, as at Christ’s holy birth.        20
 
    Blest land, in whose dark hour
    Arise to loftiest power
No dazzlers of the sword to play the tyrant’s part,
But patriot-soldiers, true and pure and high of heart!
 
    Of such our chief of all;        25
    And he who broke the wall
Of civil strife in twain, no more to build or mend;
And he who hath this day made Death his faithful friend.
 
    And now above his tomb
    From out the eternal gloom        30
“Welcome!” his chieftain’s voice sounds o’er the cannon’s knell;
And of the three one only stays to say “Farewell!”
 
 
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