TO E.S. SALOMON Who in a Memorial Day oration protested bitterly against decorating the graves of Confederate dead by Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

What! Salomon! such words from you, Who call yourself a soldier? Well, The Southern brother where he fell Slept all your base oration through. Alike to him -- he cannot know Your praise or blame: as little harm Your tongue can do him as your arm A quarter-century ago. The brave respect the brave. The brave Respect the dead; but you -- you draw That ancient blade, the ass's jaw, And shake it o'er a hero's grave. Are you not he who makes to-day A merchandise of old reknown Which he persuades this easy town He won in battle far away? Nay, those the fallen who revile Have ne'er before the living stood And stoutly made their battle good And greeted danger with a smile. What if the dead whom still you hate Were wrong? Are you so surely right? We know the issues of the fight -- The sword is but an advocate. Men live and die, and other men Arise with knowledges diverse: What seemed a blessing seems a curse, And Now is still at odds with Then. The years go on, the old comes back To mock the new -- beneath the sun Is nothing new; ideas run Recurrent in an endless track. What most we censure, men as wise Have reverently practiced; nor Will future wisdom fail to war On principles we dearly prize. We do not know -- we can but deem, And he is loyalest and best Who takes the light full on his breast And follows it throughout the dream. The broken light, the shadows wide -- Behold the battle-field displayed! God save the vanquished from the blade, The victor from the victor's pride. If, Salomon, the blessed dew That falls upon the Blue and Gray Is powerless to wash away The sin of differing from you, Remember how the flood of years Has rolled across the erring slain; Remember, too, the cleansing rain Of widows' and of orphans' tears. The dead are dead -- let that atone: And though with equal hand we strew The blooms on saint and sinner too, Yet God will know to choose his own. The wretch, whate'er his life and lot, Who does not love the harmless dead With all his heart and all his head -- May God forgive him, I shall not. When, Salomon, you come to quaff The Darker Cup with meeker face, I, loving you at last, shall trace Upon your tomb this epitaph: "Draw near, ye generous and brave -- Kneel round this monument and weep For one who tried in vain to keep A flower from a soldier's grave."

Postwar Remembrances