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

Southern States: Manassas, Va.

May-Day at Manassas

By George B. Wallace

’T WAS far in May, a heavenly day,—

The skies were bright, the fields were gay

With blossoms, butterflies, and bees,

And singing birds in the cherry-trees;

And the air from gardens, woods, and bowers

Was sweet with the breath of vernal flowers;

And the waving wheat-fields seemed to me

The gleaming waves of a summer sea,

That May-day at Manassas.

And flocks and herds, in pastures green,

Enlivened far and wide the scene;

And here and there, on hill and plain,

Stood clustering stacks of hay and grain;

And near the old-time mansion played

Its pickaninnies in the shade,

While the “field-hand” slave forgot his wrongs

Of bondage, in his cheerful songs,

That May-day at Manassas.


YET once again I passed that way,

In the morning of another May;

But what an awful change was there,

Affecting even the light and air!

Are these realities? They seem

The horrors of a hideous dream.

I looked appalled and in surprise

On the blackened earth and smoky skies,

That May-day at Manassas.

No fields of wheat the picture graced,—

Their very landmarks were effaced;

No flocks or herds or stacks of grain

Were visible on hill or plain;

But pits, redoubts, and many a mound,

Where the bones of men in the shallow ground

Lay buried from the battle’s toil,

Or partly whitening on the soil,

That May-day at Manassas.