Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JOHN PELHAM, by JAMES RYDER RANDALL

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JOHN PELHAM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Just as the spring came laughing through the strife
Last Line: Twining the victor's crown!
Variant Title(s): The Dead Cannoneer
Subject(s): American Civil War; Kelly's Ford, Virginia, Battle Of (1863); Pelham, John (1838-1863); United States - History

JUST as the spring came laughing through the strife,
With all its gorgeous cheer,
In the bright April of historic life
Fell the great cannoneer.

The wondrous lulling of a hero's breath
His bleeding country weeps;
Hushed, in the alabaster arms of Death,
Our young Marcellus sleeps.

Nobler and grander than the child of Rome,
Curbing his chariot steeds,
The knightly scion of a Southern home
Dazzled the land with deeds.

Gentlest and bravest in the battle-brunt --
The Champion of the Truth --
He bore his banner to the very front
Of our immortal youth.

A clang of sabres mid Virginian snow,
The fiery pang of shells, --
And there's a wail of immemorial woe
In Alabama dells:

The pennon drops, that led the sacred band
Along the crimson field;
The meteor blade sinks from the nerveless hand,
Over the spotless shield.
We gazed and gazed upon that beauteous face,
While, round the lips and eyes,
Couched in their marble slumber, flashed the grace
Of a divine surprise.

O, mother of a blessed soul on high,
Thy tears may soon be shed!
Think of thy boy, with princes of the sky,
Among the Southern dead!

How must he smile on this dull world beneath,
Fevered with swift renown --
He, with the martyr's amaranthine wreath,
Twining the victor's crown!

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