Arlington

“Arlington” by Lillian Rozell Messenger

Beside this lonely home,
The tide rolled solemnly along
With scare a breath of moan, or song;
The skies wore tender veils of blue,
And hills their ametheystine hue;
The city, like some frozen dream,
Shone by the azure silent stream.
I roved where war’s red sword-glare
Once flashed across this loved home fair,
And smote the pure white brow of peace,
Till mercy’s saintly voice should cease. . . .
The flowers held their fragrant breath,
And turned sad faces to the sun,
I looked in woe on what was done
At Arlington.

Winds were pining low,
As if they cried for one’s return,
As if they bore some spirit’s yearn
For what ne’er comes; in vain they tried
Their olden harps, but only died
In tender sighs ‘mong trembling leaves
Of ivy old, that faithful cleaves
To desolation’s solitude. . . .
Beside a strip of lonely wood
A few, and unknown Southern braves
Sleep well in death, though vengeance raves,
And tyranny holds out its rod
Above this holy, holy sod.

Here are deserted rooms and halls,
No mirth—no friendly footstep falls;
Nor voice, nor face once in this home
Into its silence now may come;
The past is weeping, one may hear
Her tears slow falling, year to year;
This vision is too drear to see
The lovely lonely home of Lee,
Whereon now rise no stars of bliss—
This strange and mournful picture is—
Is Arlington.

“Thou shalt not steal” . . . is Law?
Shall war’s dread thunders fly
Above the Voice of Sinai? . . .
“War’s usages?” –ah, is it well
Of these to speak?—they’re flames of hell.
Was it just for Lee to answer “No”
When cast his land her soul in woe,
And shrink from duty as from God
Though right became a fiery rod?
Is faith, and love, a broken reed?
Was’t just for one grand soul to heed
His country’s call, and him to fly
The same despairing, helpless cry? . . .
Peace! peace! Of us he hath no need,
And God hath given him place indeed
In hearts unnumbered, and doth rise
His home eterne in Paradise
Hush! Flowers hold their fragrant breath,
And listen t’ all the silence saith;
And turn sad faces to the sun,
And turn their hearts, like mine as one
That cannot look on what was done
At Arlington.

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