Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE UNKNOWN DEAD, by LEVI BISHOP



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THE UNKNOWN DEAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The graceful column and the lofty arch
Last Line: "we know the worthy in the ""dead unknown."
Subject(s): Death; Life; Tears; Dead, The


The graceful column and the lofty arch,
May tell of legions that the great have led;
But who shall give the final, fatal march --
The charging shout and fall of "unknown dead?"

Where were they born? What mother's tender care,
What father reared -- sustained their early years?
What dangers did they meet, what struggle share?
What hopes were theirs and what their bitter tears?

Who were their mates? What circle did they cheer?
Of humble life were they or highly bred?
Were they of conscript line or volunteer?
Ah, who shall tell us of the "unknown dead!"

What were their battles -- grapples life for life,
That turned the day in which their valor shone?
Who can unfold their tale of dreadful strife?
Must they forever rest as "dead unknown?"

Too true, we fear, and yet of these the grave,
Shall be the Nation's care, to guard their fame;
Who falls his country to defend and save,
If known or not is honored all the same.

In classic Greece, in distant ages far,
Where gods of fiction held the chastening rod,
The stranger came -- the great apostle saw,
The dark inscription, "To the Unknown God."

So we behold, as back we calmly look,
Upon the fields of slaughter and of dread,
The scattered fruits the raging tempest shook --
The fearful numbers of the "unknown dead."

But as the preacher, on the martial hill,
Before the learn-ed and the vulgar horde,
Proclaimed to pagan world, with mighty skill,
The "Unknown" as the known and sovereign Lord:

So let us loud proclaim the "unknown" brave;
Above their dust let sweetest flowers be strewn;
Enough that here is found the patriots' grave;
We know the worthy in the "dead unknown."




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