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Monday, May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day: "For you who bore the extreme sharp pain for us..."

From the The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry: From Whitman to Walcott: "Written for more than 200,000 Negroes who served in the Union Army during the Civil War".
Memorial Wreath
by Dudley Randall

In the green month when resurrected flowers,
Like laughing children ignorant of death,
Brighten the couch of those who wake no more,
Love and remembrance blossom in our hearts
For you who bore the extreme sharp pain for us,
And bought our freedom with your lives.

And now,
Honoring your memory, with love we bring
These fiery roses, white-hot cotton flowers
And violets bluer than cool northern skies
You dreamed of in the burning prison fields
When liberty was only a faint north star,
Not a bright flower planted by your hands
Reaching up hardly nourished with your rich blood.
Fit grave fellows you are for Lincoln, Brown
And Douglas and Toussant . . . all whose rapt eyes
Fashioned a new world in this wilderness.

American earth is richer for your bones;
Our hearts prouder for the blood we inherit.

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