By Henry Timrod 1828–1867 Henry Timrod

Sung on the occasion of decorating the graves of the Confederate dead, at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, S. C., 1866

Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
   Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause!—
Though yet no marble column craves
   The pilgrim here to pause.

In seeds of laurels in the earth,
   The garlands of your fame are sown;
And, somewhere, waiting for its birth,
   The shaft is in the stone.

Meanwhile, your sisters for the years
   Which hold in trust your storied tombs,
Bring all they now can give you—tears,
   And these memorial blooms.

Small tributes, but your shades will smile
   As proudly on these wreaths to-day,
As when some cannon-moulded pile
   Shall overlook this Bay.

Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
   There is no holier spot of ground,
Than where defeated valor lies
   By mourning beauty crowned.

Source: The Collected Poems of Henry Timrod (1965)

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Poet Henry Timrod 1828–1867

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Sorrow & Grieving, Heroes & Patriotism, War & Conflict, Social Commentaries, Living, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy


Since Henry Timrod's output before the Civil War was limited to verse sufficient only for a single volume—published in December 1859—his literary reputation at the time was modest. The political activities surrounding the formation of a new nation and the impact of the war itself aroused Timrod's poetic imagination, however, and he quickly became widely known as the literary spokesman and eventually as the so-called poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sorrow & Grieving, Heroes & Patriotism, War & Conflict, Social Commentaries, Living, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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