The Minstrel At The Graves Of His Kindred
by Josias Homely
By the lightning fire of heaven
Are the banners of the brave ;
Grim emblems of fierce victory !
O wayward, idle mockery
To hang them o'er the grave,
As if 'twere glory to the dead
That they their kindred blood had shed.
Like bubble tempest tost
Expiring on the sea,
The record vain of bloody deed,
Oblivion is the final meed
Of pride and chivalry :
The stone unfaithful to its trust
Betrays and mocks the nameless dust.
Red rusted in the ground,
Is the warrior's blood-stain'd brand ;
Here is the helm which graced his brow,
His twisted mail is with us now,
The glaive which cloth'd his hand;
But I his son inquire in vain
What foes he slew ?—by whom was slain ?
For whom the valiant lifted brand
When foeman threaten'd thee,
They lov'd thee—'twas their souls' behest
To do for thee, and do their best—
To die right valiantly.
Flown is the fame they left for me,
All but their deep, true love to thee.
He sat among the ashes of the dead.
The bard had sung, the chronicler had wrote
Their feats of war. He scorn'd not valiant deeds,
But his rapt soul was roll'd into itself;
The vanity of such a fame he saw,
And sigh'd for days when man should be at peace-
When the meek spirit should inherit all,
And pure good-will man's highest honor claim.
Again his fingers wander'd through the strings ;
It seem'd as if some vagrant zephyr swept
Their lines with wing invisible—a strain
Of soften'd melody, irregular,
'Rose from the harp, the while the minstrel boy,
Communing with the future and the past.
After short symphony of wild sweet notes,
Utter'd his wayward phantasies in song.