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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Abram Joseph Ryan (1838–1886)

The Cause of the South

THE FALLEN cause still waits,—

Its bard has not come yet;

His song through one of to-morrow’s gates

Shall shine, but never set.

But when he comes, he’ll sweep

A harp with tears all stringed;

And the very notes he strikes will weep

As they come from his hand, woe-winged.

Ah! grand shall be his strain,

And his songs shall fill all climes;

And the Rebels shall rise and march again

Down the lines of his glorious rhymes.

And through his verse shall gleam

The swords that flashed in vain;

And the men who wore the gray shall seem

To be marshaling again.

But hush! between his words

Peer faces sad and pale,

And you hear the sound of broken chords

Beat through the poet’s wail.

Through his verse the orphans cry—

The terrible undertone!

And the father’s curse and the mother’s sigh,

And the desolate young wife’s moan….

I sing, with a voice too low

To be heard beyond to-day,

In minor keys of my people’s woe;

And my songs will pass away.

To-morrow hears them not,—

To-morrow belongs to fame:

My songs, like the birds’, will be forgot,

And forgotten shall be my name.

And yet, who knows! betimes

The grandest songs depart,

While the gentle, humble, and low-toned rhymes

Will echo from heart to heart.