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The Disinterred Warrior

William Cullen Bryant

Gather him to his grave again,
And solemnly and softly lay,
Beneath the verdure of the plain,
The warrior's scattered bones away.

Pay the deep reverence, taught of old,
The homage of man's heart to death;
Nor dare to trifle with the mould
Once hallowed by the Almighty's breath.

The soul hath quickened every part --
That remnant of a martial brow,
Those ribs that held the mighty heart,
That strong arm -- strong no longer now.

Spare them, each mouldering relic spare,
Of God's own image; let them rest,
Till not a trace shall speak of where
The awful likeness was impressed.

For he was fresher from the hand
That formed of earth the human face,
And to the elements did stand
In nearer kindred, than our race.

In many a flood to madness tossed,
In many a storm has been his path;
He hid him not from heat or frost,
But met them, and defied their wrath.

Then they were kind -- the forests here,
Rivers, and stiller waters, paid
A tribute to the net and spear
Of the red ruler of the shade.

Fruits on the woodland branches lay,
Roots in the shaded soil below,
The stars looked forth to teach his way,
The still earth warned him of the foe.

A noble race! but they are gone,
With their old forests wide and deep,
And we have built our homes upon
Fields where their generations sleep.

Their fountains slake our thirst at noon,
Upon their fields our harvest waves,
Our lovers woo beneath their moon --
Then let us spare, at least, their graves!

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