The Battle Autumn of 1862

By John Greenleaf Whittier

The flags of war like storm-birds fly,
    The charging trumpets blow;
Yet rolls no thunder in the sky,
    No earthquake strives below.

And, calm and patient, Nature keeps
    Her ancient promise well,
Though o'er her bloom and greenness sweeps
    The battle's breath of hell.

And still she walks in golden hours
    Through harvest-happy farms,
And still she wears her fruits and flowers
    Like jewels on her arms.

What mean the gladness of the plain,
    This joy of eve and morn,
The mirth that shakes the beard of grain
    And yellow locks of corn?

Ah! eyes may well be full of tears,
    And hearts with hate are hot;
But even-paced come round the years,
    And Nature changes not.

She meets with smiles our bitter grief,
    With songs our groans of pain;
She mocks with tint of flower and leaf
    The war-field's crimson stain.

Still, in the cannon's pause, we hear
    Her sweet thanksgiving-psalm;
Too near to God for doubt or fear,
    She shares the eternal calm

She knows the seed lies safe below
    The fires that blast and burn;
For all the tears of blood we sow
    She waits the rich return.

She sees with clearer eye than ours
    The good of suffering born,—
The hearts that blossom like her flowers
    And ripen like her corn.

Oh, give to us, in times like these,
    The vision of her eyes;
And make her fields and fruited trees
    Our golden prophecies!

Oh, give to us her finer ear!
    Above this stormy din,
We, too, would hear the bells of cheer
    Ring peace and freedom in!

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1862/10/the-battle-autumn-of-1862/303954/