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31.5.04

In Memoriam

Ionarts thanks all the men and women who, when asked to do terrible things for our country's sake, have responded with courage and selflessness. Our duty is to make sure that they do not give their lives for an unjust cause.

Kerr Eby, Last Rites for the Sergeant
Kerr Eby (1899–1946), Last Rites for the Sergeant (charcoal, 1944)
(from the Navy Art Collection Branch Online Exhibits, which features a fascinating collection of art made by artist-soldiers during wartime)


Walt Whitman (1819–1892), from Leaves of Grass ("Drum-Taps")

Dirge for Two Veterans
1
The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

2
Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.

3
I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

4
I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

5
For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.
6
Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

7
In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;
(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

8
O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

9
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

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