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Short poem

Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)

              1Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
              2    The swallows fly low
              3Over the field in clouded days,
              4    The forest-field of Shiloh --
              5Over the field where April rain
              6Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
              7Through the pause of night
              8That followed the Sunday fight
              9    Around the church of Shiloh --
            10The church so lone, the log-built one,
            11That echoed to many a parting groan
            12        And natural prayer
            13    Of dying foemen mingled there --
            14Foemen at morn, but friends at eve --
            15    Fame or country least their care:
            16(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
            17    But now they lie low,
            18While over them the swallows skim,
            19    And all is hushed at Shiloh.


1] General Ulysses S. Grant led Union forces, the Armies of the Tennessee and of the Ohio, to defeat the Confederate Army of the Mississippi under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at Shiloh, Pittsburg Landing, in Tennessee, on April 6-7, 1862. Nearly 24,000 soldiers died in battle.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Collected Poems of Herman Melville, ed. Howard P. Vincent (Chicago: Packard, 1947): 41. PS 2382 V5 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1866
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/6/2

Rhyme: irregular

Other poems by Herman Melville