Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE STRICKEN SOUTH TO THE NORTH, by PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE STRICKEN SOUTH TO THE NORTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When ruthful time the south's memorial places
Last Line: Subdues the souls which hate could only wound!
Subject(s): Reconstruction (1865-1876); Southern States; Yellow Fever; South (u.s.)

WHEN ruthful time the South's memorial places --
Her heroes' graves -- had wreathed in grass and flowers;
When Peace ethereal, crowned by all her graces,
Returned to make more bright the summer hours;
When doubtful hearts revived, and hopes grew stronger;
When old sore-cankering wounds that pierced and stung,
Throbbed with their first, mad, feverous pain no longer,
While the fair future spake with flattering tongue;
When once, once more she felt her pulses beating
To rhythms of healthful joy and brave desire;
Lo! round her doomed horizon darkly meeting,
A pall of blood-red vapors veined with fire!

Oh! ghastly portent of fast-coming sorrows!
Of doom that blasts the blood and blights the breath,
Robs youth and manhood of all golden morrows --
And life's clear goblet brims with wine of death! --
Oh! swift fulfilment of this portent dreary!
Oh! nightmare rule of ruin, racked by fears,
Heartbroken wail, and solemn miserere,
Imperious anguish, and soul-melting tears!
Oh! faith, thrust downward from celestial splendors,
Oh! love grief-bound, with palely-murmurous mouth!
Oh! agonized by life's supreme surrenders --
Behold her now -- the scourged and suffering South!

No balm in Gilead? nay, but while her forehead,
Pallid and drooping, lies in foulest dust,
There steals across the desolate spaces torrid,
A voice of manful cheer and heavenly trust,
A hand redeeming breaks the frozen starkness
Of palsied nerve, and dull, despondent brain;
Rolls back the curtain of malignant darkness,
And shows the eternal blue of heaven again --
Revealing there, o'er worlds convulsed and shaken,
That face whose mystic tenderness enticed
To hope new-born earth's lost bereaved, forsaken!
Ah! still beyond the tempest smiles the Christ!

Whose voice? Whose hand? Oh, thanks divinest Master,
Thanks for those grand emotions which impart
Grace to the North to feel the South's disaster,
The South to bow with touched and cordial heart!
Now, now at last the links which war had broken
Are welded fast, at mercy's charmed commands;
Now, now at last the magic words are spoken
Which blend in one two long-divided lands!
O North! you came with warrior strife and clangor;
You left our South one gory burial ground;
But love, more potent than your haughtiest anger,
Subdues the souls which hate could only wound!

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