Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Thomas Buchanan Read. 1822–1872
 
149. The Celestial Army
 
I STOOD by the open casement 
  And looked upon the night, 
And saw the westward-going stars 
  Pass slowly out of sight. 
  
Slowly the bright procession         5
  Went down the gleaming arch, 
And my soul discerned the music 
  Of their long triumphal march; 
  
Till the great celestial army, 
  Stretching far beyond the poles,  10
Became the eternal symbol 
  Of the mighty march of souls. 
  
Onward, forever onward, 
  Red Mars led down his clan; 
And the Moon, like a mailèd maiden,  15
  Was riding in the van. 
  
And some were bright in beauty, 
  And some were faint and small, 
But these might be in their great height 
  The noblest of them all.  20
  
Downward, forever downward, 
  Behind Earth's dusky shore 
They passed into the unknown night, 
  They passed and were no more. 
  
No more! Oh, say not so!  25
  And downward is not just; 
For the sight is weak and the sense is dim 
  That looks through heated dust. 
  
The stars and the mailèd moon, 
  Though they seem to fall and die,  30
Still sweep with their embattled lines 
  An endless reach of sky. 
  
And though the hills of Death 
  May hide the bright array, 
The marshalled brotherhood of souls  35
  Still keeps its upward way. 
  
Upward, forever upward, 
  I see their march sublime, 
And hear the glorious music 
  Of the conquerors of Time.  40
  
And long let me remember, 
  That the palest, fainting one 
May to diviner vision be 
  A bright and blazing sun. 
 
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