Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Southern States: Manassas, Va.
May-Day at Manassas
George B. Wallace
 
1860
’T WAS far in May, a heavenly day,—
The skies were bright, the fields were gay
With blossoms, butterflies, and bees,
And singing birds in the cherry-trees;
And the air from gardens, woods, and bowers        5
Was sweet with the breath of vernal flowers;
And the waving wheat-fields seemed to me
The gleaming waves of a summer sea,
                That May-day at Manassas.
 
And flocks and herds, in pastures green,        10
Enlivened far and wide the scene;
And here and there, on hill and plain,
Stood clustering stacks of hay and grain;
And near the old-time mansion played
Its pickaninnies in the shade,        15
While the “field-hand” slave forgot his wrongs
Of bondage, in his cheerful songs,
                That May-day at Manassas.
*        *        *        *        *
1862
YET once again I passed that way,
In the morning of another May;        20
But what an awful change was there,
Affecting even the light and air!
Are these realities? They seem
The horrors of a hideous dream.
I looked appalled and in surprise        25
On the blackened earth and smoky skies,
                That May-day at Manassas.
 
No fields of wheat the picture graced,—
Their very landmarks were effaced;
No flocks or herds or stacks of grain        30
Were visible on hill or plain;
But pits, redoubts, and many a mound,
Where the bones of men in the shallow ground
Lay buried from the battle’s toil,
Or partly whitening on the soil,        35
                That May-day at Manassas.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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