The Dead Captain

By George Sterling

F. C. H.

This our strong mar, is dead at last,
    Lethe on brow and limb,
And all our kingdom of the past
    Goes down in dust with him:
Walls in whose shade we laughed and leapt—
    Built of his heart and brain;
Halls in whose peacefulness we slept—
    Now given to the rain.

Beneath the shelter of his shield,
    A buckler strong and wide,
Light-panoplied we took the field,
    Trusting our strength untried.
We dreamt 'twas we the foemen feared,
    Ere trumpets told the death
And on the path his sword had sheared
    We passed with tranquil breath.

The shock or cunning of the foe
    Little we reckoned then
Who see today the battle go
    Against our fighting-men.
The toil, the sweat, the expressed blood—
    We found them but in talk
Of him who won across the mud
    That we on marble walk.

Nothing he cares, who nothing knows
    How fares our war today,
Gone to the long, austere repose
That beds the weary clay.
'T is we, by his old victories freed
    To respites dear as brief.
That learn of our own woe and need
    His greatness and his grief.

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