University of Virginia Library

Search this document 

collapse section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 



(August, 1861)

Some hearts there are of deeper sort,
Prophetic, sad,
Which yet for cause are trebly clad;
Known death they fly on:
This wizard-heart and heart-of-oak had Lyon.
“They are more than twenty thousand strong,
We less than five,
Too few with such a host to strive.”
“Such counsel, fie on!
'Tis battle, or 'tis shame;” and firm stood Lyon.


“For help at need in vain we wait—
Retreat or fight:
Retreat the foe would take for flight,
And each proud scion
Feel more elate; the end must come,” said Lyon.
By candlelight he wrote the will,
And left his all
To Her for whom 'twas not enough to fall;
Loud neighed Orion
Without the tent; drums beat; we marched with Lyon.
The night-tramp done, we spied the Vale
With guard-fires lit;
Day broke, but trooping clouds made gloom of it:
“A field to die on,”
Presaged, in his unfaltering heart, brave Lyon.
We fought on the grass, we bled in the corn—
Fate seemed malign;
His horse the Leader led along the line—
Star-browed Orion;
Bitterly fearless, he rallied us there, brave Lyon.
There came a sound like the slitting of air
By a swift sharp sword—
A rush of the sound; and the sleek chest broad
Of black Orion
Heaved, and was fixed; the dead mane waved toward Lyon.


“General, you're hurt—this sleet of balls!”
He seemed half spent;
With moody and bloody brow, he lowly bent:
“The field to die on;
But not—not yet; the day is long,” breathed Lyon.
For a time becharmed there fell a lull
In the heart of the fight;
The tree-tops nod, the slain sleep light;
Warm noon-winds sigh on,
And thoughts which he never spake had Lyon.
Texans and Indians trim for a charge:
“Stand ready, men!
Let them come close, right up, and then
After the lead, the iron;
Fire, and charge back!” So strength returned to Lyon.
The Iowa men who held the van,
Half drilled, were new
To battle: “Some one lead us, then we'll do,”
Said Corporal Tryon:
“Men! I will lead,” and a light glared in Lyon.
On they came: they yelped, and fired;
His spirit sped;
We levelled right in, and the half-breeds fled,
Nor stayed the iron,
Nor captured the crimson corse of Lyon.


This seer foresaw his soldier-doom,
Yet willed the fight.
He never turned; his only flight
Was up to Zion,
Where prophets now and armies greet pale Lyon.