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Poetic Reflections
Cover Them Over

Cover them over with beautiful flowers;
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours;
Lying so silent, by night and by day,
Sleeping the years of their manhood away:
Years they had marked for the joys of the brave;
Years they must waste in the sloth of the grave.
All the bright laurels they fought to make bloom
Fell to the earth when they went to the tomb.
Give them the meed they have won in the past;
Give them the honors their merits forecast;
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.

Cover them over—yes, cover them over—
Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Crown in your heart these dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers.

Cover the faces that motionless lie,
Shut from the blue of the glorious sky:
Faces once lit with the smiles of the gay—
Faces now marred by the frown of decay.
Eyes that beamed friendship and love to your own;
Lips that sweet thoughts of affection made known;
Brows you have soothed in the day of distress;
Cheeks you have flushed by the tender caress.
Faces that brightened at War's stirring cry;
Faces that streamed when they bade you good-by;
Faces that glowed in the battle's red flame,
Paling for naught, till the Death Angel came.

Cover them over—yes, cover them over—
Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Kiss in your hearts these dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers.

Cover the hands that are resting, half-tried,
Crossed on the bosom, or low by the side:
Hands to you, mother, in infancy thrown;
Hands that you, father, close hid in your own;
Hands where you, sister, when tried and dismayed,
Hung for protection and counsel and aid;
Hands that you, brother, for faithfulness knew;
Hands that you, wife, wrung in bitter adieu.
Bravely the cross of their country they bore;
Words of devotion they wrote with their gore;
Grandly they grasped for a garland of light,
Catching the mantle of death-darkened night.

Cover them over—yes, cover them over—
Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Clasp in your hearts these dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers.

Cover the feet that, all weary and torn,
Hither by comrades were tenderly borne:
Feet that have trodden, through love-lighted ways,
Near to your own, in the old happy days;
Feet that have pressed, in Life's opening morn,
Roses of pleasure, and Death's poisoned thorn.
Swiftly they rushed to the help of the right,
Firmly they stood in the shock of the fight.
Ne'er shall the enemy's hurrying tramp
Summon them forth from their death-guarded camp;
Ne'er, till Eternity's bugle shall sound,
Will they come out from their couch in the ground.

Cover them over—yes, cover them over—
Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Rough were the paths of those heroes of ours—
Now cover them over with beautiful flowers.

Cover the hearts that have beaten so high,
Beaten with hopes that were born but to die;
Hearts that have burned in the heat of the fray,
Hearts that have yearned for the homes far away;
Hearts that beat high in the charge's loud tramp,
Hearts that low fell in the prison's foul damp.
Once they were swelling with courage and will,
Now they are lying all pulseless and still;
Once they were glowing with friendship and love,
Now the great souls have gone soaring above.
Bravely their blood to the nation they gave,
Then in her bosom they found them a grave.

Cover them over—yes, cover them over—
Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Press to your hearts these dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers.

-- Will Carlton, American Poet (1845-1912)

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