Decoration Day

ON this fair morn, when over all the land
Come softly gracious ones, with eyelids wet,
And on the soldier’s grave, with reverent hand,
Lay lily and violet,
Who brings to thee, where o’er thy fallen head
The unpitying seasons heedless come and go,
A wreath to deck thy lone and nameless bed,
Where Southern forests grow?
When ode and psalm and tuneful eloquence
Rehearse the deeds that kept the nation free,
And tears rain fast in love and reverence,
Who drops a tear for thee?
Perchance, where thou dost rest, the oriole’s psalm
Floats light above thee, and the sweet-brier lays
Her perfumed cheek on thine. When nights are calm,
And all the stars ablaze,
Perchance the dew distills her patient tears
Upon thy breast; or, from the o’erhanging tree,
A dreaming bird, disturbed by midnight fears,
Shakes down soft drops on thee.
I may not know. Afar thou liest, and lone,
Nor love nor grief thy burial-place may see;
But the wide earth, my lost, yet still my own,
Holds but thy grave for me!
Amelia Daley Alden.