Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
“Under the shade of the trees”
Margaret Junkin Preston (1820–1897)
 
   [The last words of Stonewall Jackson 1 were: “Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”]

WHAT are the thoughts that are stirring his breast?
  What is the mystical vision he sees?
—“Let us pass over the river, and rest
  Under the shade of the trees.”
 
Has he grown sick of his toils and his tasks?        5
  Sighs the worn spirit for respite or ease?
Is it a moment’s cool halt that he asks
  Under the shade of the trees?
 
Is it the gurgle of water whose flow
  Ofttimes has come to him, borne on the breeze,        10
Memory listens to, lapsing so low,
  Under the shade of the trees?
 
Nay—though the rasp of the flesh was so sore,
  Faith, that had yearnings far keener than these,
Saw the soft sheen of the Thitherward Shore        15
  Under the shade of the trees;—
 
Caught the high psalm of ecstatic delight—
  Heard the harps harping, like soundings of seas—
Watched earth’s assoiled ones walking in white
  Under the shade of the trees.        20
 
Oh, was it strange he should pine for release,
  Touched to the soul with such transports as these,—
He who so needed the balsam of peace,
  Under the shade of the trees?
 
Yea, it was noblest for him—it was best        25
  (Questioning naught of our Father’s decrees),
There to pass over the river and rest
  Under the shade of the trees!
 
Note 1. Major-General Thomas J. Jackson, C.S.A., killed on a reconnaissance, May 10, 1863. [back]
 
 
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