06 November 2013

The Wrath of the Black Hills - A Military Poem

By A.T. Lee. For the Army and Navy Journal.
There was silence in the canons,
There was silence on the hills,
And the valley of the Rosebud,
Poured its songs of summer tills;
And summer birds in brambles,
And low zephyrs in the vines
On the path of Custer's squadrons,
As they rode among the pines.
Their steeds were worn and weary,
For they journeyed fast and far,
From the fading of the twilight
To the paling of the star,
But 'twas morning on the Big Horn,
Dawn of zest for steed and man;
How the daylight laughed with gladness
Where the sparkling river ran!
All is silent by the river,
Save the murmur of its voice,
And the summer leaves that rustle
In the zephyrs, and rejoice.
But see! the frightened eagle
Quits his eyry in the sky,
And hark! those yells of madness,
That do drown the eagle's cry!
From every rock and ravine,
From each hilltop, slope and dell,
They swarm in yelling legions.
They are fiends let loose from hell!
A thousand ringing rifles
Send their messengers of wrath!
A thousand whizzing arrows
Follow swiftly on their path!
See the reeling, stricken squadrons!
Dying man, and dying steed!
They fly — they halt, they rally!
But in vain they fight and bleed,
Still the ravines send their legions,
Pouring onward like a flood!
And the air is black with terror,
And the sands are red with blood!
There is silences in the canons,
There is silence on the hills.
Where the sands are red with slaughter
There are songs of summer rills.
The birds sing by the streamlets
And the pine tree nods its crest;
And the eagle from the cloudlet
Has gone back to find her nest.
April 20, 1879. St. Paul Daily Globe 2(96): 4.