Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day

Just a little something to think about for Memorial Day weekend:

They set a marble tomb above my shattered self, seeking to do me honor thus, to recompense the searing days, the crawling nights I died in. "He lies here deep," the graven letters say, "He lies here deep, unknown to all save God."
O, sweet it is, they say. O, sweet it is to die the battle death.
Yes. It is sweet.
As gall is sweet and wormwood, so is death.
I died.
I felt the bitter fire, the cleaving steel, the pain.
I am content.
Yet I am weary in my sentiments.
The sleep of death is not so very deep.
Lately, the spring has come and yesterday a tiny root of some green thing has split the stones apart wherein I lie.
Its tender, questing fingers seek my hand - as mine sought flowers on some yesterday forgot.
Above my head, the hushed clang of arms, the measured tread of sentinels that guard my bed, forbid me sleep.
My face is dim in Eternity now.
But, once, you knew me.
Perhaps you wept to hear that Sergeant Death had spoke my name.
Is it you that I hear through the dust, O, my brother?
Is it your little song that I hear, O, my mother?
I, in my tomb of marble? I, in my tomb of stone?
I am the Chief of them all.
I am the Chief of the Dead.
I died.
And, dying, became a mystery.
To every mother, her son.
To every brother, his brother.
To every soldier, his comrade.
I, the Chief of the Dead.
I was content to lie here, masked in uncertainty, having the homage of all of you here in my marble tomb.
I was content, I say.
Yet now spring comes again as I saw it once before that day I died.
Is it your hand that rests on the stone, O, my sister?
Is it your tear - that falls on the stone, O, my wife?
I hear the trumpets now.
The volleys sound.
The sabers flash against a sun I may not know.
I may not rise.
I have my duty. Here. Alone.
I, in my tomb of marble.
I, in my tomb of stone.
I am the Chief of them all.
I am the Chief of the Dead.

From "In the House Where I Was Born," by Wyllis Cooper.


  1. Thank you for coming over and reading my dream about sliding backward down Main Street in Kellogg.

    To answer the question you left in my comments, my dream was referring to Father Coleman King.

  2. A couple notes: Colman H. King (no "e"--my son is named after him--I stayed with him in Irealand in '72).
    Enjoyed your Memorial Day poem! The other spot I noted "Sgt Death" mentioned is in the song "Bard of Armagh"--with the melody most (here) would recognize as the Streets of Loredo.
    I posted a memorial Day tribute courtesy of Tennyson:
    Thanks--from another "Shoshone conservative!"

  3. Thank you - actually, it's from an episode of an old radio show that ran in the late '40's.
    The reference to "Bard of Armagh"/"Streets of Laredo" is interesting - actually, in the show itself (which can be heard at and read at - well worth a listen if you got 1/2 an hour and can listen to mp3 files), Streets of Laredo is the song sung as the Unknown Soldier from Texas leaves for war. Such subtlety shows what a brilliant writer Wyllis Cooper really was.

  4. Greetings

    I just found your blog listed under the New Blogs in the St. Blog's Parish Directory. Welcome to the Directory and welcome to the Catholic blogosphere.

    Laudetur Jesus Christus!