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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Tradition of Conquest

By Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836–1919)

HIS Grace of Marlborough, legends say,

Though battle-lightnings proved his worth,

Was scathed like others, in his day,

By fiercer fires at his own hearth.

The patient chief, thus sadly tried—

Madam, the Duchess, was so fair—

In Blenheim’s honors felt less pride

Than in the lady’s lovely hair.

Once (shorn, she had coiled it there to wound

Her lord when he should pass, ’tis said),

Shining across his path he found

The glory of the woman’s head.

No sudden word, nor sullen look,

In all his after days, confessed

He missed the charm whose absence took

A scar’s pale shape within his breast.

I think she longed to have him blame,

And soothe him with imperious tears:—

As if her beauty were the same,

He praised her through his courteous years.

But, when the soldier’s arm was dust,

Among the dead man’s treasures, where

He laid it as from moth and rust,

They found his wayward wife’s sweet hair.