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Father Ryan's Poems (47)

2006-09-08 16:13

    Sentinel Songs

    When falls the soldier brave, Dead at the feet of wrong, The poet sings and guards his grave With sentinels of song. Songs, march! he gives command, Keep faithful watch and true; The living and dead of the conquered land Have now no guards save you. Gray ballads! mark ye well! Thrice holy is your trust! Go! halt by the fields where warriors fell; Rest arms! and guard their dust. List, songs! your watch is long, The soldiers' guard was brief; Whilst right is right, and wrong is wrong, Ye may not seek relief. Go! wearing the gray of grief! Go! watch o'er the dead in gray! Go! guard the private and guard the chief, And sentinel their clay! And the songs, in stately rhyme And with softly sounding tread, Go forth, to watch for a time —— a time —— Where sleep the Deathless Dead. And the songs, like funeral dirge, In music soft and low, Sing round the graves, whilst hot tears surge From hearts that are homes of woe. What tho' no sculptured shaft Immortalize each brave? What tho' no monument epitaphed Be built above each grave? When marble wears away And monuments are dust, The songs that guard our soldiers' clay Will still fulfil their trust. With lifted head and stately tread, Like stars that guard the skies, Go watch each bed where rest the dead, Brave songs, with sleepless eyes. * * * * * When falls the cause of Right, The poet grasps his pen, And in gleaming letters of living light Transmits the truth to men. Go, songs! he says who sings; Go! tell the world this tale; Bear it afar on your tireless wings: The Right will yet prevail. Songs! sound like the thunder's breath! Boom o'er the world and say: Brave men may die —— Right has no death! Truth never shall pass away! Go! sing thro' a nation's sighs! Go! sob thro' a people's tears! Sweep the horizons of all the skies, And throb through a thousand years! * * * * * And the songs, with brave, sad face, Go proudly down their way, Wailing the loss of a conquered race And waiting an Easter-day.

    Away! away! like the birds, They soar in their flight sublime; And the waving wings of the poet's words Flash down to the end of time.

    When the flag of justice fails, Ere its folds have yet been furled, The poet waves its folds in wails That flutter o'er the world.

    Songs, march! and in rank by rank The low, wild verses go, To watch the graves where the grass is dank, And the martyrs sleep below.

    Songs! halt where there is no name! Songs! stay where there is no stone! And wait till you hear the feet of Fame Coming to where ye moan.

    And the songs, with lips that mourn, And with hearts that break in twain At the beck of the bard —— a hope forlorn —— Watch the plain where sleep the slain.

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