Plaque opposite the entrance to the chapel of Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Bivouac Of The Dead
The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo!
No more on life’s parade shall meet
The brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind,
Nor troubled thought of midnight haunts,
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dreams alarms,
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn to call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their pluméd heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud –
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle’s stirring blast,
The charge, – the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are passed;
Nor war’s wild notes, nor glory’s peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore shall feel
The rapture of the fight.
Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Come down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o’er the field beneath,
Knew the watchword of the day
Was “Victory or death!”
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear is the blood you gave –
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
Or honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.
You marble minstrel’s voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished year hath flown,
The story how you fell.
Nor wreck nor change, nor winter’s blight,
Nor time’s remorseless doom,
Can dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb.
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