Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAST REVIEW, by EMILY J. BUGBEE



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THE LAST REVIEW, by            
First Line: Twenty-one miles of boys in blue
Last Line: His spirit would thrill at a scene like this.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Religion; United States - History; Theology


TWENTY-ONE MILES of boys in blue,
Sixty abreast in the last review --
How grandly the columns stretch away
In the cloudless light of this sweet May day.
Onward in rank and file they come,
To the cheering beat of the victors' drum.

Wearied and scarred and worn they be,
But a prouder host you never will see --
Their faded banners, riddled with ball,
But floating triumphantly after all.
Never again in the world's sunlight,
Shall the nations look on a grander sight.

No more, till the Christian army stand,
Whose warriors shall gather from every land,
For a last review on the other shore,
Their life-long battles and marches o'er,
Will a marshaled host like this appear,
Crowned with the glory that victors wear.

Let the heads of the nation bow as they pass,
And scatter with flowers the dewy grass;
As their gleaming weapons flash in the sun,
Remember the deeds of valor done.
How that solid column of human breasts
Was bared to the storm for the nation's rest.

Then beat the drum for the last reveille,
The echoes of strife are growing still;
With a conquering tread the heroes come,
Back to the dear delights of home.

But alas, the army of countless dead --
We shall list in vain for their coming tread;
Full forty miles of our noble braves,
Sixty abreast, are in their graves.
As your cheers ring out for the living host,
Remember the heroes loved and lost.

And think of the maimed and the wasted band,
Seeking the homes of this stricken land,
For whom the brightness of life is o'er,
Whose feet are nearing the other shore;
Remnants of manhood, once so strong,
These cannot march in the gala throng.

Then hail, all hail to the boys in blue,
Gathered today for a last review,
Marching with floating banners back:
Scatter with flowers their joyous track.
Their brows perchance are dark with scars,
And their worn feet seamed with crimson bars,
But kings and victors we crown today,
The war-scarred host on their homeward way.

And I wonder, if down from the sweet repose
Which the soul of the martyred hero knows,
The commander in chief looks down and sees
Those banners float in the earthly breeze,
And if in the calm of that world of bliss,
His spirit would thrill at a scene like this.





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