Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"In Memoriam A. L." by Benjamin Homer Hall (1865)


A. L.


Strong in the strength of common sense:

        Fettered by naught but right's own rules;

        With wisdom blessed above the schools,

And void of sham and false pretence;

Finding in every human face

        Some image of the source of all,

        Hearing in every bondman's call

The suppliance of a common race;—

Thus armed, in blackest hour of hate,

        Obedient to a people's voice

        And sacred by a people's choice,

He came to'guard and save the state.

He waited, suffering long the rage

        That strove the nation's heart to pierce,

        And watched, till treason's madness fierce

At Sumter cast the rebel gage.

Then to his summons forth there came

        Brave Northern men with hurrying tread,

        Fired with a vengeance grand and dread,

To vindicate the nation's fame.

They left the busy marts of trade,

        They left the anvil and the plough,

        And their sweet lives, with solemn vow,

On their dear country's altar laid.

Then through long years of deadliest strife —

        Our banner trodden in the dust—

        Lincoln, with simple, childlike trust,

Stood firm to save the nation's life.

He never yielded hope nor heart.

        Pierced with the shaft of bitter hate,

        He chose with kindest soul to wait,

And hide the venom of the dart.

He could not sink to motives base,

        Nor seek a good by doubtful ends;

        But weighed the counsel of his friends,

And looked above for light and grace.

Then Truth revealed her godlike form,

        And Slavery fell, no more to rise,

        Crushed by the fiat of the skies,

Dying amid the battle storm.

Man, bound in gyves of grief and pain

        For crime of color or of birth,

        Rose from the common mother earth,

Freed from the dark, inhuman stain.

Out from unnumbered voices poured

        The anthem sweet of freedom's song,

        Of right triumphant over wrong,

From man redeemed to God adored.

Then one by one the strongholds fell

        Where treason long had held her seat,

        While he, so calm amid defeat,

In triumph, checked the exultant swell.

Thus victory came to be our friend,

        And hope inspired the longing view

        With vision of a heavenly hue —

The omen of a peaceful end.

Then sped that midnight message dread,

        Borne madly on the electric wire,

        Burning its way on wings of fire,

That he who loved us all was dead.

On that black day that saw thee slain

        Oh Christ! that sinful man might live,

        That noble soul which thou did'st give

Passed from a murdered body's pain!

On that white day, when to the sun

        Again from Sumter's ruins rose

        Our country's flag, by fiercest foes

This deed of damning guilt was done!

Crowned with a never ending fame,

        Encircled by a nation's love,

        A martyr here, a saint above,

Be every honor done his name.

Oh God! a nation prostrate lies,

        And supplicates Thy favoring care:

        Make answer to its wrestling prayer,

And bid it in Thy strength arise.

Then shall these brooding clouds of night,

        That cast their shadow o'er our way,

        Dissolve before the brightening day,

And leave us in Thy blessed light.

                                Troy News.

April 19, 1865.

A Tribute of Respect by the Citizens of Troy to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln. Troy, NY: Young & Benson, 1865. 178-179.

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