The Burial of the Flag.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston



O, WHO are these that troop along, and whither do they go?
Why move they thus with measured tread, while funeral trumpets blow?
Why gather round that open grave in mockery of woe?

They stand together on the brink, they shovel in the clod;
But what is that they bury deep? Why trample they the sod?
Why hurry they so fast away, without a prayer to God?

It was no corpse of friend or foe. I see a flag uprolled;
The golden stars, the gleaming stripes, are gathered fold on fold,
And lowered into the hollow grave, to rot beneath the mould.

Then up they hoisted all around, on towers and hills and crags,
The emblems of their traitorous schemes, their base disunion flags.
That very night there blew a wind that tore them all to rags!

And one that flaunted bravest by the storm was swept away,
And hurled upon the grave in which our country’s banner lay,
Where, soaked with rain and stained with mud, they found it the next day.

From out the North a power comes forth,—a patient power too long,—
The spirit of the great, free air,—a tempest swift and strong;
The living burial of our flag, it will not brook that wrong.

The stars of heaven shall gild her still; her stripes like rainbows gleam;
Her billowy folds like surging clouds o’er North and South shall stream.
She is not dead, she lifts her head, she takes the morning’s beam!

The banner of the unsevered States,—though buried in the dust,
She is not dead; she springs to life; her cause, like truth’s, is just;
She leads the van, her meteor flame directs the thundergust!

That storm of lightning, wind, and rain shall sweep the country clean,
Till sweet airs breathe, and bright suns shine the cloudy rifts between,
And all the vales shall bloom anew, and all the hills be green!

June 4, 1861.

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