Monday, May 31, 2010

For Those Who Have Fallen

For the friends we have lost, and for all the friends we never had a chance to meet:

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)

Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

--Walt Whitman

9 comments:

Dixie Jane said...

A noble post and poignant poem by Walt Whitman. I reread the tribute to Tim with the same feeling of emptyness and sorrow. How can life have such contradictions? On the one hand, beautiful moonlit nights and bright, fragrant flowers, snowcapped mountains, sun-drenched beaches. A baby's smile, music that touches your soul. Contrast it with extreme losses of those we love and then try and figure it out.

So many to think about on this Memorial Day. Bless them all.

dbdubya said...

Thank you, Laurie, for honoring our fallen soldiers with Walt Whitman's touching poem. Today is not about burgers and beer, but about memories and appreciation of those who sacrificed for our freedom. God bless them all.

Denise Franklin said...

You always know just what to say. Thank you for this. I also read last year's post about your friend who died in Lebanon. I appreciate your words and your photos.

Regards,

Denise Franklin

Judy Williams said...

The last stanza is just gut wrenching. Reading this won't be the only time I'll tear up today, thankful to those who have given so much.

You ability to always say the right thing at the right time is astounding.

Mike said...

Beautiful post, Laurie.

Bellis said...

I tear up when I think of all those wonderful Americans, most of them mere boys, who died in battles on foreign soil to help other countries. My mother was a teenager in Germany when the good-looking American troops liberated her city and came through with their tanks, throwing down chewing gum and sweets for the children. It was such a great day for the Germans, who all turned out to cheer. Thank you!

Shanna said...

A great tribute.
A perfect photo.

How we do look to nature for solace and for meaning. And to the words of poets, who express so much in so few words.

Mister Earl said...

Universal Soldier

Laurie said...

Thank you, everybody.