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In Their Own Words

October 23, 1868

Poem Expressed Sadness over Civil War

The Atlanta Constitution published the following poem by Elzey May reflecting the sadness and bitterness still felt three years after the close of the Civil War:

Rusting on the Wall

Only a shattered blade

Beaten and worn,

Back in the scabbard laid

Useless, forlorn;

There let it proudly lay,

Wasting in slow decay.

Conquered - we sadly say,

Of its strength shorn.

Not ever thus it hung

Rusting in gloom:

Once its bright metal rung

Midst cannon-boom;

Eager eyes met its flash

In the mad battle crash

Where friend and foeman clash

Over their doom.

Broken and battered now

There let it rest.

Yet there was once a vow

Deep in the breast,

Where one heart to heaven swore

Rest it should never more,

While foeman trampled o’er

South land oppressed.

Dim now the eager eyes,

Cold the proud heart-

Low in the ground it lies

Mouldering apart.

Gone is the sword to rust,

Fallen the form to dust,

Every hope of the just

Struck from the chart.

Though now there’s none to wield

Liberty’s blade,

Yet on some battle-field

In time, undismayed,

There are heroes unborn

In the future’s bright morn

That shall rescue from scorn

What traitor’s betrayed.

We love thee, O sacred steel -

Relic of those

Who ‘gainst the wrongs we feel

Proudly uprose:

Though tongue can but feebly tell

What they wrought ere freedom fell,

Their blood hangeth like a spell

Over our woes.

Source: Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 23, 1868.