[Sidenote: 1898] This was written just after the end of the war with Spain for the freeing of Cuba.
Far out, far out they lie. Like stricken women weeping,
Eternal vigil keeping with slow and silent tread--
Soft-shod as are the fairies, the winds patrol the prairies,
The sentinels of God about the pale and patient dead!
Above them, as they slumber in graves that none may number,
Dawns grow to day, days dim to dusk, and dusks in darkness
Unheeded springs are born, unheeded summers brighten,
And winters wait to whiten the wilderness of grass.
Slow stride appointed years across their bivouac places,
With stern, devoted faces they lie, as when they lay,
In long battalions dreaming, till dawn, to eastward gleaming,
Awoke the clarion greeting of the bugles to the day.
The still and stealthy speeding of the pilgrim days unheeding,
At rest upon the roadway that their feet unfaltering trod,
The faithful unto death abide, with trust unshaken,
The morn when they shall waken to the reveille of God.
The faithful unto death! Their sleeping-places over
The torn and trampled clover to braver beauty blows;
Of all their grim campaigning no sight or sound remaining,
The memory of them mutely to greater glory grows.
Through waning ages winding, new inspiration finding,
Their creed of consecration like a silver ribbon runs,
Sole relic of the strife that woke the world to wonder
With riot and the thunder of a sundered people's guns.
What matters now the cause? As little children resting,
No more the battle breasting to the rumble of the drums,
Enlinked by duty's tether, the blue and gray together,
They wait the great hereafter when the last assembly comes.
Where'er the summons found them, whate'er the tie that bound them,
'Tis this alone the record of the sleeping army saith:--
They knew no creed but this, in duty not to falter,
With strength that naught could alter to be faithful unto death.