Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Arlington, Va.


By S. M. Carpenter

THE TENTS that whitened Arlington have vanished from the fields,

And plenty where the cannon stood a golden harvest yields;

The campfires gleam no more at night, and pleasant mornings come,

Without the blare of bugles or the beating of the drum.

The rushes by the riverside thrill with the reed-birds’ song,

And bend to kiss the ripples as the waters flow along;

The robins stray beneath the oaks, the partridge calls its brood,

And whistles down the valleys with a confidence renewed.

All through the widening rifle-pits the grass is growing green,

And autumn wild-flowers blossom where the bivouacs have been;

The days seem like a sunny dream, and night falls gently down

In silence, broken only by the murmur from the town.

But though the camps have vanished and the tents are laid away,

An army waits upon the knolls in undisturbed array,—

A legion without banners, that knows no music save

The wailing of the dead-march and a volley o’er the grave.

Here comrades that together strove, with all of life at stake,

Lie side by side, in slumber that no bugle-call can break;

No shock can ever break their ranks, no blast their columns thin,

Nor one deserter leave the corps their grim Chief musters in.

Spring twines its garlands o’er their heads, but they never cull its flowers,

And peaceful winter evenings bring to them no happy hours.

Tears fall at home; they heed them not, and care no more to earn

The love that waited patiently to welcome their return.

Alas! what dreams of life and love have ended in these grounds!

How many hopes are buried in these little grassy mounds!

How many hearts have felt the pang the lips could never tell,

And broken, striving to believe “He doeth all things well!”

’T is sweet to think the war is o’er; that all its bitter pain

Was measured for our chastening and not endured in vain;

And dearer still it is to know that in the coming years

A nation’s happiness will bless our offerings and our tears.