Friday, January 21, 2011

Shiloh: A Requiem (April 1862) - Herman Melville

A different type of war poem...and a very effective one, I think.

A Requiem (April 1862)

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
   The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
   The forest-field of Shiloh --
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched one stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
   Around the church of Shiloh --
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
      And natural prayer
   Of dying foemen mingled there --
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve --
   Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
   But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
   And all is hushed at Shiloh.

1 comment:

  1. Sasha, do you know if Melville visited there or knew about such a scene in a church there? It's a haunting place (SE Tennessee, an hour or so south of Jackson), but in our tour there I didn't get a sense of too much "mingling" going on. I regret I don't remember any of the displays referencing this poem, but they surely might have!