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

Theodore O’Hara (1820–1867)

The Bivouac of the Dead

THE MUFFLED drum’s sad roll has beat

The soldier’s last tattoo;

No more on life’s parade shall meet

That brave and fallen few.

On fame’s eternal camping-ground

Their silent tents are spread,

And Glory guards with solemn round

The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance

Now swells upon the wind;

No troubled thought at midnight haunts

Of loved ones left behind;

No vision of the morrow’s strife

The warrior’s dream alarms;

No braying horn or screaming fife

At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shivered swords are red with rust,

Their plumèd heads are bowed;

Their haughty banner trailed in dust

Is now their martial shroud.

And plenteous funeral tears have washed

The red stains from each brow;

And the proud forms, by battle gashed,

Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,

The bugle’s stirring blast,

The charge, the dreadful cannonade,

The din and shout, are past;

Nor war’s wild note nor glory’s peal

Shall thrill with fierce delight

Those breasts that nevermore may feel

The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce northern hurricane

That sweeps his great plateau,

Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,

Came down the serried foe.

Who heard the thunder of the fray

Break o’er the field beneath,

Knew well the watchword of that day

Was “Victory or death.”