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Poem of the Day--Herman Melville

By John Published: April 14, 2011

First Bell reader Larry D. recommends this Civil War poem by Herman Melville, more famous for Moby-Dick and Billy Budd. Thanks for the suggestion, especially given the 150th anniversary of the start of the war this week. Other readers also are invited to submit poems for Poem of the Day during National Poetry Month.

Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)

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.

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