Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VICKSBURG, by PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE

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VICKSBURG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: For sixty days and upwards
Last Line: To the music in their hearts.
Variant Title(s): The Bombardment Of Vicksburg
Subject(s): American Civil War; Holidays; Memorial Day; United States - History; Vicksburg Campaign (1862-63); Declaration Day

FOR sixty days and upwards,
A storm of shell and shot
Rained round us in a flaming shower,
But still we faltered not.
"If the noble city perish,"
Our grand young leader said,
"Let the only walls the foe shall scale
Be ramparts of the dead!"

For sixty days and upwards,
The eye of heaven waxed dim;
And even throughout God's holy morn,
O'er Christian prayer and hymn,
Arose a hissing tumult,
As if the fiends in air
Strove to engulf the voice of faith
In the shrieks of their despair.

There was wailing in the houses,
There was trembling on the marts,
While the tempest raged and thundered,
Mid the silent thrill of hearts;
But the Lord, our shield, was with us,
And ere a month had sped,
Our very women walked the streets
With scarce one throb of dread.

And the little children gambolled,
Their faces purely raised,
Just for a wondering moment,
As the huge bombs whirled and blazed;
Then turned with silvery laughter
To the sports which children love,
Thrice - mailed in the sweet, instinctive thought
That the good God watched above.

Yet the hailing bolts fell faster,
From scores of flame-clad ships,
And about us, denser, darker,
Grew the conflict's wild eclipse,
Till a solid cloud closed o'er us,
Like a type of doom and ire,
Whence shot a thousand quivering tongues
Of forked and vengeful fire.

But the unseen hands of angels
Those death-shafts warned aside,
And the dove of heavenly mercy
Ruled o'er the battle tide;
In the houses ceased the wailing,
And through the war-scarred marts
The people strode, with step of hope,
To the music in their hearts.

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