Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SUMTER [APRIL 12, 1861], by EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN



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SUMTER [APRIL 12, 1861], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Came the morning of that day / when the god to whom we pray
Last Line: For the sin!
Variant Title(s): The Twelfth Of April
Subject(s): American Civil War; Fort Sumter, South Carolina; United States - History


CAME the morning of that day
When the God to whom we pray
Gave the soul of Henry Clay
To the land;
How we loved him, living, dying!
But his birthday banners flying
Saw us asking and replying
Hand to hand.

For we knew that far away,
Round the fort in Charleston Bay,
Hung the dark impending fray,
Soon to fall;
And that Sumter's brave defender
Had the summons to surrender
Seventy loyal hearts and tender --
(Those were all!)

And we knew the April sun
Lit the length of many a gun --
Hosts of batteries to the one
Island crag;
Guns and mortars grimly frowning,
Johnson, Moultrie, Pinckney, crowning,
And ten thousand men disowning
The old flag.

Oh, the fury of the fight
Even then was at its height!
Yet no breath, from noon till night,
Reached us here;
We had almost ceased to wonder,
And the day had faded under,
When the echo of the thunder
Filled each ear!

Then our hearts more fiercely beat,
As we crowded on the street,
Hot to gather and repeat
All the tale;
All the doubtful chances turning,
Till our souls with shame were burning,
As if twice our bitter yearning
Could avail!

Who had fired the earliest gun?
Was the fort by traitors won?
Was there succor? What was done
Who could know?
And once more our thoughts would wander
To the gallant, lone commander,
On his battered ramparts grander
Than the foe.

Not too long the brave shall wait:
On their own heads be their fate,
Who against the hallowed State
Dare begin;
Flag defied and compact riven!
In the record of high Heaven
How shall Southern men be shriven
For the sin!





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