AD POETAS By George Henry Boker (1823-1890)

O brother bards, why stand ye silent all, Amidst these days of noble strife, While drum and fife and the fierce trumpet-call Awake the land to life? Now is the time, if ever time there was, To strike aloud the sounding lyre, To touch the heroes of our holy cause Heart-deep with ancient fire. 'T is not for all, like Norman Taillefere, To sing before the warlike horse Our fathers' glories, the great trust we bear, And strike with harp and sword. Nor yet to frame a lay whose moving rhyme Shall flow in music North and South, And fill with passion, till the end of time, The nation's choral mouth. Yet surely, while our country rocks and reels, Your sweetly-warbled olden strains Would mitigate the deadly shock she feels, And soothe her in her pains. Some knight of old romance, in full career, Heard o'er his head the skylark sing. And, pausing, leaned upon his bloody spear, Lost in that simple thing. If by your songs no heroes shall be made To look death boldly eye to eye, They may glide gently to the martyr's aid When he lies down to die. And many a soldier, on his gory bed, May turn himself, with lessened pain, And bless you for the tender words you said, Now singing in his brain. So ye, who hold your breath amidst the fight, Be to your sacred calling true: Sing on! the far result is not in sight Of the great good ye do.

The Home Front