Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poem: On the Anniversary of Lee's Surrender

On the Anniversary of Lee's Surrender

They stood on the porch afterwards,
Lee in his perfect gray uniform.
Grant muddy, wearing a private's shirt,
the surrender complete,

the end of four long years
of battle and deprivation,
of the sad exhilaration of war,

Lee climbed slowly on his horse,
suddenly old, proud,
even as the soldiers in blue cheered.
Grant, frantic, made them cease,

honoring his foe with silence.
Of that moment, he wrote:
"Never has a man so great
given himself to a cause so false."

And now you find yourself on the point of surrender.
It matters not to what -
destiny, love, God -
and you are tempted to think yourself weak,

not seeing instead that you give yourself
to something greater, something
that can lift you up, far higher
than you would have ever risen



Going into work this morning, I heard on the radio that today is the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox in 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Thinking over that moment, somewhat described here, brought out this poem.

The picture, unlike others on this site, is obviously not mine. It's a contemporary sketch of Lee leaving the McClellan house after the surrender itself, but was unattributed on the "Eyewitness to History" site.


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