Poems of Places 6
From Poems of Places, vol. 28, America: Southern States (Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1879), edited by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Since I am spending the summer near D.C., I thought to look into this volume. Appears that most of the work is Civil War-related, including this poem, “Spring at the Capital,” and the one for Arlington, VA, where my father’s nursing home is located. For an added personal touch, the author, Elizabeth Akers Allen, was born in Maine, where I’d otherwise be. Her archive is part of the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England. Here is an excerpt:
For Nature does not recognize
This strife that rends the earth and skies;
No war-dreams vex the winter sleep of clover-heads and daisy-eyes.
She holds her even way the same,
Though navies sink or cities flame;
A snowdrop is a snowdrop still, despite the nation’s joy or shame.
When blood her grassy altar wets,
She sends the pitying violets
To heal the outrage with their bloom, and cover it with soft regrets.
O crocuses with rain-wet eyes,
O tender-lipped anemones,
What do ye know of agony and death and blood-won victories?
No shadow breaks your sunshine-trance,
Though near you rolls, with slow advance,
Clouding your shining leaves with dust, the anguish-laden ambulance.
Yonder a white encampment hums;
The clash of martial music comes;
And now your startled stems are all a-tremble with the jar of drums.
Whether it lessen or increase,
Or whether trumpets shout or cease,
Still deep within your tranquil hearts the happy bees are murmuring “Peace!”
O flowers ! the soul that faints or grieves
New comfort from your lips receives;
Sweet confidence and patient faith are hidden in your healing leaves.
— from “Spring at the Capital” by Elizabeth Akers Allen