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.
 
IV. Peace
Sentinel Songs
Abram Joseph Ryan (1838–1886)
 
WHEN falls the soldier brave
  Dead—at the feet of wrong,—
The poet sings, and guards his grave
  With sentinels of song.
 
Songs, march! he gives command,        5
  Keep faithful watch and true;
The living and dead of the Conquered Land
  Have now no guards save you.
 
Grave Ballads! mark ye well!
  Thrice holy is your trust!        10
Go! halt! by the fields where warriors fell,
  Rest arms! and guard their dust.
 
List, Songs! your watch is long!
  The soldiers’ guard was brief,
Whilst right is right, and wrong is wrong,        15
  Ye may not seek relief.
 
Go! wearing the gray of grief!
  Go! watch o’er the Dead in Gray!
Go guard the private and guard the chief,
  And sentinel their clay!        20
 
And the songs, in stately rhyme,
  And with softly sounding tread,
Go forth, to watch for a time—a time,
  Where sleep the Deathless Dead.
 
And the songs, like funeral dirge,        25
  In music soft and low,
Sing round the graves,—whilst not tears surge
  From hearts that are homes of woe.
 
What though no sculptured shaft
  Immortalize each brave?        30
What though no monument epitaphed
  Be built above each grave?
 
When marble wears away,
  And monuments are dust,—
The songs that guard our soldiers’ clay        35
  Will still fulfil their trust.
 
With lifted head, and steady tread,
  Like stars that guard the skies,
Go watch each bed, where rest the dead,
  Brave Songs! with sleepless eyes.        40
 
 
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