The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

III. Poets of the Civil War II

§ 28. Ode Sung at Magnolia Cemetery

Two years after the war, Timrod, suffering from tuberculosis and the direst poverty, wrote his greatest poem, the Ode Sung on the Occasion of Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, S. C., 1867. The poem is a fit ending to any consideration of Southern War Poetry, for it is the last word to be said of those who died and of those who would honour their memory.

  • I
  • Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
  • Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause;
  • Though yet no marble column craves
  • The pilgrim here to pause.
  • II
  • In seeds of laurel in the earth
  • The blossom of your fame is blown,
  • And somewhere, waiting for its birth,
  • The shaft is in the stone!
  • III
  • Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years
  • Which keep in trust your storied tombs,
  • Behold! your sisters bring their tears
  • And these memorial blooms.
  • IV
  • Small tributes! but your shades will smile
  • More proudly on these wreaths to-day,
  • Than when some cannon-moulded pile
  • Shall overlook this bay.
  • V
  • Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
  • There is no holier spot of ground
  • Than where defeated valor lies,
  • By mourning beauty crowned!