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His Monument Post by :sbentley Category :Poems Author :Helen Leah Reed Date :November 2011 Read :3441

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His Monument

From top to pedestal you scan it lightly--
Capped head to lettered base--and you are smiling.
What see you there to set your lips a-quiver?
An awkward figure cut from ugly granite,
Aye, roughly hewn, as if unhelped by chisel,
This peaceful man of war, sculptured grotesquely.
Still--there is metal in the gun he is holding,
And in the cannon balls piled up before him--
The artist's symbols of a real soldier.
Yet jeer no longer!
Before you is a soldier of the Union,
Crowned with the tears and prayers of many mourners.
The Village set him here for all to honor,
Here, in the centre of their foot-worn common,
Where on long, summer evenings boys at baseball
May gaze and gaze, and make him an example;
A hero they would follow.
Beholding him I see no granite figure,
But face a man who fought to save his country,
Whose heart was pierced when wife, and child and mother
Clung to him closely in that tearful parting.
Yet brave he marched away while flags were fluttering,
Though in his soul he knew that never, never,
Might he again see those he loved so dearly,
Nor look again upon the old white steeple,
Upon the little streets and shabby buildings
Straggling unevenly toward the Common;
Or if he came back, he'd be maimed and battered,
Subject to hateful pity.
Therefore I smile not at the queer, gaunt figure,
The tilted cap--the wide and baggy trousers,
The long loose overcoat, the dangling knapsack,
This is the man who fought to save our country!
Who, in his millions, marched from every village,
From every city of our mighty Nation;
Who heard the drums and trumpets blithely playing--
"Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching."
So there it stands--thank-offering of a people--
Whether of rough-hewn stone, or bronze, or marble--
Proving our debt to those who saved the Union,
Pointing the way for those who'd like to follow--
Who to the death would fight were we in peril--
The Soldier's Monument!


(The end)
Helen Leah Reed's poem: His Monument

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