Thursday, July 04, 2013

Gettysburg...03-05 1863

What was perhaps the turning point of the Civil War was the bloody battle just outside of Gettysburg, fought 3-5 July 1863 in the placid countryside of Pennsylvania. Fifty-one thousand Union and Confederate soldiers were wounded, missing, or dead as a result of the desperate battle. On 19 November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the immortal “Gettysburg Address,” only some 269 words in length but a document that will forever live in the annals of American history. The battle constituted a watershed event in the nation’s history, saving the nation and freeing the slaves, and it is fitting on the 150th anniversary of that terribly-costly battle to pay homage to the brave men on both sides.

GETTYSBURG

The pain, like nothing he had known

Since lacerating foot on stone…

Yes, worse than tissue ripped to bone

When just a boy, one day alone;

Once more alone, with searing pain

- From head to toe a pain-link chain -

His first awareness in the rain

As consciousness he fought to gain.

His mind, befogged, began to clear,

No musketry he now could hear,

No longer…now…that rebel cheer,

Which once was music to his ear.

Flat on his back, he closed his eyes

Against the rain from graying skies

And flinched at hearing anguished cries

Of comrades facing pain, demise.

On yesterday the fight was waged,

As back and forth the lines had raged;

A sniper’s bullet rightly gauged

Had felled him in this crevice, caged.

He opened wide his cracked, parched lips,

To slake the thirst of countless trips

Through hostile fields...some canteen sips,

And chewed-up weeds, tobacco strips.

Now fighting just to stay aware,

He turned his head only to stare

At blood that oozed through matting hair

And dripped on rock…quite tombstone bare.

To turn his head was all that he

Could bear, since pain incessantly

Made movement an atrocity

More feared now than the enemy…



Still gone were sounds of musketry

As twilight settled eerily,

No pounding hooves of cavalry…

The only sound…cried-misery.

He thought of Alabama corn

Just breaking ground that April morn

When tears were shed and love was sworn

And he to shot and powder born,

And then the days of victory

And seeming death-immunity…

All now recalled despairingly,

While facing his mortality.

In haze, he pondered “civil war -

Uncivil war, this blood and gore,

Was it for this, or was there more

That made men kill their brothers for?”

As darkness crept across the slain

And earth was marked by bloody stain,

Red rivulets, formed with the rain,

Made ghastly the pock-marked terrain.

His feeble cries on deaf ears fell,

Or ears of those who shared his hell

And, thus, with him could only dwell,

But not his wretchedness repel.

The thoughts of cotton fields in bloom,

A teenage boy, a small schoolroom,

Danced in and out amid the gloom

With thoughts of an impending doom.



As night wore on, the groans grew less

Throughout the mud of helplessness -

In sound and number less and less,

As comrades entered hopelessness.

Sometimes a scream, sometimes a prayer

Would split the heavy, midnight air…

The screams and prayers of stark despair,

No loved ones…there…to know or care.

He fought to keep his consciousness

And thwart his awful pains’ duress

To make it till the dawn’s brightness,

When rescue would be his redress.

Toward daylight, thoughts consumed his mind

Of her for whom he so repined,

And parents to his will resigned,

And their entreaties he declined.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Then, slipping from his stubborn will,

No longer feeling rainy chill -

“Our Father” wafted toward the hill -

Then morning came...and all was...still.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



And four months thence the president

Bestrode this place where lives were spent

And sanctioned it as monument

To those whose deaths were testament

That what was joined by rock-hard will

For four-score-seven lived on still,

Not split asunder…brought to nil,

But still a work that none will kill.



And yet in fourteen decades thence

The nation bears the evidence

That peace is simply recompense

In periodic segments whence

Its military might prevails

Against the day the nation quails

– When leadership is weak and flails –

Before its foes...and freedom fails.



And thence through terror these twelve years,

As those of Allah kindle fears,

Bathe innocents in blood and tears,

Change peaceful scenes to fiery biers,

The nation once again must fight

And vows that Gettysburg was right,

Its symbol never dropped from sight –

That freedom reigns through blood-bought might.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home