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Evans, Mildred (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XVIII, Number 2 (November 1918)

Leonard, William Ellery
As I listened by the lilacs,   pp. 33-35


Page 33

WISCONSIN LITERARY MAGAZINE
As I Listened by the Lilacs'
As I listened by the lilacs to the thrush this spring,
The good gray poet said another thing:
The great bell peals, and the great ships wait,
And my Captain and my comrades filing thro the
gate.
The good gray poet, back from the sea
With battle-rent banner, whispered me:
Filing down the wharves with noiseless feet,
Filing under moon from a long, long street
(A long, long street with fork and bend,
And mountain sunsets at the further end):
Shovel-hatted Puritans with funnel-mouth guns;
Eagle-feather crested bowmen bronze;
Buck-skin trappers, fringed to the thighs,
With beaver-caps frayed over buffalo eyes;
Oregon Trailers, sons and sires,
With gun-stocks charred by the prairie fires;
Grizzled Forty-niners, with picks and barrows;
Log-cabin folk with home-made harrows;
Lasso-boys from the ranch-frontiers;
And girl-cornhuskers of the pioneers
Filing under moon from a long, long street,
Tramp, tramp, tramp-to the great sea-fleet.
As I listened in the twilight, after the rain,
The good gray poet said again:
Filing down the piers, over waters black,
Filing thro the gate from a long bivouac
(A long bivouac by the stream and the hill,
And the low white stars and the whip-poor-will):
Minute-men with eyelids damp from sleep;
Valley Forge men who limp and creep;
Yorktown men, and Lafayette men,
And Red Coats girt with their swords again;
And the great Sphinx-head with lips so tight,
With crisscross belt, on a war-horse white.
And I saw John Brown,-and the rice-swamp
blacks
Mopping the sweat with bandanas from their
backs.
And I saw Marshall Grant-who but he!
And Pickett and his men who charged for Lee;
And the blue and the gray and the gray and the
blue
(Blent by the years to an olive hue);
'Reminiscences of the three motifs of Walt Whitman's noc-
turne on the death of Lincoln-the twilight April star, the
lilac bush, and the song of the thrush-are combined in the
following poem with a reminiscence of the same good gray
poet's other tribute to Lincoln, "O Captain! My Captain!"
November, 1918


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