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The Conquerors Grave

Written by: William Cullen Bryant | Biography
 | Quotes (29) |
WITHIN this lowly grave a Conqueror lies  
And yet the monument proclaims it not  
Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought 
The emblems of a fame that never dies ¡ª 
Ivy and amaranth in a graceful sheaf 5 
Twined with the laurel's fair imperial leaf. 
A simple name alone  
To the great world unknown  
Is graven here and wild-flowers rising round  
Meek meadow-sweet and violets of the ground 10 
Lean lovingly against the humble stone. 

Here in the quiet earth they laid apart 
No man of iron mould and bloody hands  
Who sought to wreak upon the cowering lands 
The passions that consumed his restless heart; 15 
But one of tender spirit and delicate frame  
Gentlest in mien and mind  
Of gentle womankind  
Timidly shrinking from the breath of blame: 
One in whose eyes the smile of kindness made 20 
Its haunt like flowers by sunny brooks in May  
Yet at the thought of others' pain a shade 
Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away. 

Nor deem that when the hand that moulders here 
Was raised in menace realms were chilled with fear 25 
And armies mustered at the sign as when 
Clouds rise on clouds before the rainy East¡ª 
Gray captains leading bands of veteran men 
And fiery youths to be the vulture's feast. 
Not thus were waged the mighty wars that gave 30 
The victory to her who fills this grave; 
Alone her task was wrought  
Alone the battle fought; 
Through that long strife her constant hope was staid 
On God alone nor looked for other aid. 35 

She met the hosts of Sorrow with a look 
That altered not beneath the frown they wore  
And soon the lowering brood were tamed and took  
Meekly her gentle rule and frowned no more. 
Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath 40 
And calmly broke in twain 
The fiery shafts of pain  
And rent the nets of passion from her path. 
By that victorious hand despair was slain. 
With love she vanquished hate and overcame 45 
Evil with good in her Great Master's name. 

Her glory is not of this shadowy state  
Glory that with the fleeting season dies; 
But when she entered at the sapphire gate 
What joy was radiant in celestial eyes! 50 
How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcomes rung  
And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung! 
And He who long before  
Pain scorn and sorrow bore  
The Mighty Sufferer with aspect sweet 55 
Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat; 
He who returning glorious from the grave  
Dragged Death disarmed in chains a crouching slave. 

See as I linger here the sun grows low; 
Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near. 60 
O gentle sleeper from thy grave I go 
Consoled though sad in hope and yet in fear. 
Brief is the time I know  
The warfare scarce begun; 
Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won. 65 
Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee  
The victors' names are yet too few to fill 
Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory  
That ministered to thee is open still.