The Conquerors Grave
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.
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.
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.
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.
William Cullen Bryant
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