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

Middle States: Saratoga, N. Y.

The Field of the Grounded Arms

By Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790–1867)


STRANGERS! your eyes are on that valley fixed

Intently, as we gaze on vacancy,

When the mind’s wings o’erspread

The spirit-world of dreams.

True, ’t is a scene of loveliness,—the bright

Green dwelling of the summer’s first-born Hours,

Whose wakened leaf and bud

Are welcoming the morn.

And morn returns the welcome, sun and cloud

Smile on the green earth from their home in heaven,

Even as a mother smiles

Above her cradled boy,

And wreathe their light and shade o’er plain and mountain,

O’er sleepless seas of grass whose waves are flowers,

The river’s golden shores,

The forests of dark pines.

The song of the wild bird is on the wind,

The hum of the wild bee, the music wild

Of waves upon the bank,

Of leaves upon the bough.

But all is song and beauty in the land,

Beneath her skies of June; then journey on,

A thousand scenes like this

Will greet you ere the eve.

Ye linger yet,—ye see not, hear not now,

The sunny smile, the music of to-day,

Your thoughts are wandering up,

Far up the stream of time;

And boyhood’s lore and fireside-listened tales

Are rushing on your memories, as ye breathe

That valley’s storied name,

Field of the Grounded Arms.

Strangers no more, a kindred “pride of place,”

Pride in the gift of country and of name,

Speaks in your eye and step,—

Ye tread your native land.

And your high thoughts are on her glory’s day,

The solemn sabbath of the week of battle,

Whose tempests bowed to earth

Her foeman’s banner here.

The forest leaves lay scattered cold and dead,

Upon the withered grass that autumn morn,

When, with as withered hearts

And hopes as dead and cold,

A gallant army formed their last array

Upon that field, in silence and deep gloom,

And at their conqueror’s feet

Laid their war-weapons down.

Sullen and stern, disarmed but not dishonored;

Brave men, but brave in vain, they yielded there:

The soldier’s trial task

Is not alone “to die.”

Honor to chivalry! the conqueror’s breath

Stains not the ermine of his foeman’s fame,

Nor mocks his captive’s doom,—

The bitterest cup of war.