May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Poetry

Memorial Day brings to mind poems of war, soldiers and remembrance. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, and May 31 is also Walt Whitman’s birthday.

Bob Holman and Margery Snyder on the poetry pages chose his poem “The Artilleryman’s Vision” as the newest addition to their collection of poems for Memorial Day.

It's a day we are supposed to reflect on those who gave their lives in the many wars fought in human history, but we are reminded that the world is ever yet in a state of war.

Shiloh: A Requiem (April 1862) is by Herman Melville

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh —
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh —
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there —
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve —
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

Whitman: Poetry and Prose (Library of America College Editions)
Whitman: Poetry and Prose

Selected Poems Of Herman Melville: A Reader's Edition (Nonpareil Book)
Selected Poems Of Herman Melville

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