Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
April 19
Apocalypse
By Richard Realf (1832–1878)
 
          Written in memory of Private Luther C. Ladd, killed by a mob, which attacked his regiment, the Sixth Massachusetts, while passing through Baltimore on the way to Washington, April 19, 1861. His was the first life lost in the war.

STRAIGHT to his heart the bullet crushed;
Down from his breast the red blood gushed,
And o’er his face a glory rushed.
 
A sudden spasm shook his frame,
And in his ears there went and came        5
A sound as of devouring flame,
 
Which in a moment ceased, and then
The great light clasped his brows again,
So that they shone like Stephen’s when
 
Saul stood apart a little space        10
And shook with shuddering awe to trace
God’s splendors settling o’er his face.
 
Thus, like a king, erect in pride,
Raising clean hands toward heaven, he cried,
“All hail the Star and Stripes!” and died—        15
 
Died grandly. But before he fell,
(O blessedness ineffable!)
Vision apocalyptical
 
Was granted to him, and his eyes
All radiant with glad surprise        20
Looked forward through the centuries,
 
And saw the seeds which sages cast
In the world’s soil in cycles past
Spring up and blossom at the last.
 
Saw how the souls of men had grown,        25
And where the scythes of Truth had mown
Clear space for Liberty’s white throne.
 
Saw how, by sorrow tried and proved,
The blackening stains had been removed
Forever from the land he loved.        30
 
Saw Treason crushed and Freedom crowned,
And clamorous Faction, gagged and bound,
Gasping its life out on the ground.
 
Saw how, across his country’s slopes,
Walked swarming troops of cheerful hopes,        35
Which evermore to broader scopes
 
Increased, with power that comprehends
The world’s weal in its own, and bends
Self-needs to large, unselfish ends.
 
Saw how, throughout the vast extents        40
Of Earth’s most populous continents,
She dropped such rare heart affluence
 
That from beyond the utmost seas,
The wondering peoples thronged to seize
Her proffered pure benignities.        45
 
Saw how, of all her trebled host
Of widening empires, none might boast
Whose love were best or strength were most,
 
Because they grew so equal there
Beneath the flag which, debonaire,        50
Waved joyous in the cleansed air.
 
With far-off vision gazing clear
Beyond this gloomy atmosphere
Which shuts us in with doubt and fear,
 
He—marking how here high increase        55
Ran greatening in perpetual lease
Through balmy years of odorous peace—
 
Greeted, in one transcendent cry
Of intense passionate ecstasy,
The sight which thrilled him utterly.        60
 
Saluting with most proud disdain
Of murder and of mortal pain,
The vision which shall be again!
 
So, lifted with prophetic pride,
Raised conquering hands toward heaven and cried,        65
“All hail the Star and Stripes!” and died.
 
 
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