Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
William Cullen Bryant. 1794–1878
 
27. The Conqueror's Grave
 
WITHIN this lowly grave a Conqueror lies, 
  And yet the monument proclaims it not, 
  Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought 
The emblems of a fame that never dies,— 
Ivy and amaranth, in a graceful sheaf,         5
Twined with the laurel's fair, imperial leaf. 
    A simple name alone, 
    To the great world unknown, 
Is graven here, and wild-flowers, rising round, 
Meek meadow-sweet and violets of the ground,  10
  Lean lovingly against the humble stone. 
  
Here, in the quiet earth, they laid apart 
  No man of iron mould and bloody hands, 
  Who sought to wreak upon the cowering lands 
The passions that consumed his restless heart;  15
But one of tender spirit and delicate frame, 
    Gentlest, in mien and mind, 
    Of gentle womankind, 
Timidly shrinking from the breath of blame: 
One in whose eyes the smile of kindness made  20
  Its haunt, like flowers by sunny brooks in May, 
Yet, at the thought of others' pain, a shade 
  Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away. 
  
Nor deem that when the hand that moulders here 
Was raised in menace, realms were chilled with fear,  25
  And armies mustered at the sign, as when 
Clouds rise on clouds before the rainy East— 
  Gray captains leading bands of veteran men 
And fiery youths to be the vulture's feast. 
Not thus were waged the mighty wars that gave  30
The victory to her who fills this grave; 
    Alone her task was wrought, 
    Alone the battle fought; 
Through that long strife her constant hope was staid 
On God alone, nor looked for other aid.  35
  
She met the hosts of Sorrow with a look 
  That altered not beneath the frown they wore, 
And soon the lowering brood were tamed, and took, 
  Meekly, her gentle rule, and frowned no more. 
Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath,  40
    And calmly broke in twain 
    The fiery shafts of pain, 
And rent the nets of passion from her path. 
  By that victorious hand despair was slain. 
With love she vanquished hate and overcame  45
Evil with good, in her Great Master's name. 
  
Her glory is not of this shadowy state, 
  Glory that with the fleeting season dies; 
But when she entered at the sapphire gate 
  What joy was radiant in celestial eyes!  50
How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcomes rung, 
And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung! 
    And He who, long before, 
    Pain, scorn, and sorrow bore, 
The Mighty Sufferer, with aspect sweet,  55
Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat; 
He who returning, glorious, from the grave, 
Dragged Death, disarmed, in chains, a crouching slave. 
  
See, as I linger here, the sun grows low; 
  Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near.  60
O gentle sleeper, from thy grave I go 
  Consoled though sad, in hope and yet in fear. 
    Brief is the time, I know, 
    The warfare scarce begun; 
Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won.  65
Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee, 
  The victors' names are yet too few to fill 
Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory, 
  That ministered to thee, is open still. 
 
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