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: Washington, D. C.
The Nests at Washington
John James Piatt (1835–1917)
 
BEFORE the White House portals
  The careless eyes behold
Three iron bombs uplifted,
  Adusk in summer gold.
 
In dreamy mood I wandered        5
  At Sabbath sunset there,
While the wide city’s murmur
  Hummed vaguely everywhere:
 
“Black seeds of desolation,”
  I said, “by War’s red hand        10
Sown in the fierce sirocco
  Over the wasted land!
 
“Unholy with the holy,
  What do ye here to-day,
Symbols of awful battle,        15
  In Sabbath’s peaceful ray?”
 
Angel of Dust and Darkness!
  I heard thy woful breath,
With noise of all earth’s battles,
  Answer: “Let there be Death!”        20
 
I thought of many a midnight,
  Where sprang terrific light
Over wide woods and marshes;
  Fierce fireflies fit the night.
 
I saw beleaguered bastions        25
  Leap up in red dismay,
Wide rivers all transfigured
  Awake in dreadful day.
 
Asleep in peaceful sunshine
  Glimmered the warlike things:        30
Into their hollow horror
  Flew tenderest summer wings!
 
Deep in the awful chambers
  Of the gigantic Death,
The wrens their nests had builded        35
  And dwelt with loving breath.
 
Angel of Resurrection!
  Over all buried strife
I heard thy bird-song whisper,
  Sweetly, “Let there be Life!”        40
 
 
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