Sunday, March 25, 2012

Father Ryans Poetry Pt. 2

Requiem Chant for the Federal Dead by Father Ryan

Fr. Abram J. Ryan in later life
The restless find rest, in the lonesome, still grave,
And the bravest and best, and the truest and brave,
Whose work hath been done, work heavy and hard
They, each, every one, win highest reward
This grave is their throne, and when they lie down
In the grave, still and lone, they wear the crown
None other may wear, and the living have care
Of the still, lonesome grave, of the true and the brave
The brave are the true, and the true are the brave.
Wearers of Blue, who rest in the grave.
I of the Gray, today chant your dirge,
In the battle’s red surge, your bright lives were wrecked
Never a wave that hath not been flecked
By the whitest of foam a-crowning its crest
You fought for your home, your name and your rest
Ah, God knoweth best, the ways of this world.
The banner is furled, that waved o’er the Gray,
The banner still waves that flashed o’er the Blue
And this sacred day, you bring to still graves,
The sweet flowers of May, to crown the dead braves.
Who saved from the Gray, the Union for you.
Yours the bright Blue, that colors the skies                        
Stars in it for you, whose light never dies.
Mine the dark Gray and sad as a cloud,
Skies and stars stay, clouds float away.
Ah! Dear Southern Dead, the Ghosts of the Gray
Whose brave blood was shed, ye are with me today.
And I am your voice. I hear what you say.
Priest of our God, the men of the Blue and the men of the Gray
Lie dead ‘neath the sod, chant the praise of the men
Who met us in fight, on stream, crag and glen,
Each heart for its right, sing the true and the brave,
Who met in the fray, cry out from the grave.
Both the Blue and the Gray, each grave is so calm
Our still voices blend, in a beautiful psalm.
Let all hatreds end, from the bright Golden Shore
We cry to the world, be brothers once more.
One banner is furled, the other still waves,
O'er us and the Brave, and from far away,
We, the Blue and the Gray, ah! together we pray,
Let never hand sever, one bright star from star,
We see it from afar, and its star-folds shall float forever and ever.

As promised, this is yet another poem written by Fr. Abram Ryan, Poet-priest of the South. As this poem was written long after the end of the American Civil War, you may notice a reduction of sectional patriotic fervor. It was not meant to ease the grief of losing the war, nor was it intended to arouse old patriotism and memories in the breast of the old Confederate. You may detect just a hint of sorrow for the “Lost Cause” but the central theme of this poem is that of reconciliation. It was read Memorial Day, 1884, at the decoration of soldiers graves at Reinzi Cemetery in Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, yet it was never published in any of the later editions of Father Ryans poetry. [1]

The final stanza, with the dead of both sides speaking:

We, the Blue and the Gray, Ah! Together we pray,
Let never hand sever, one bright star from star.
We see it from afar, and its star-folds shall float forever and ever.

Did I say there was reduced patriotism? I take it back. Patriots, Blue and Gray, for one nation and one flag now.

The Picket

The Father Abram J. Ryan Archive at Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, North Carolina, retrieved from

No comments:

Post a Comment