O brother bards, why stand ye silent all,
Amidst these days of noble strife,
While drum and fife and the fierce trumpet-call
Awake the land to life?
Now is the time, if ever time there was,
To strike aloud the sounding lyre,
To touch the heroes of our holy cause
Heart-deep with ancient fire.
'T is not for all, like Norman Taillefere,
To sing before the warlike horse
Our fathers' glories, the great trust we bear,
And strike with harp and sword.
Nor yet to frame a lay whose moving rhyme
Shall flow in music North and South,
And fill with passion, till the end of time,
The nation's choral mouth.
Yet surely, while our country rocks and reels,
Your sweetly-warbled olden strains
Would mitigate the deadly shock she feels,
And soothe her in her pains.
Some knight of old romance, in full career,
Heard o'er his head the skylark sing.
And, pausing, leaned upon his bloody spear,
Lost in that simple thing.
If by your songs no heroes shall be made
To look death boldly eye to eye,
They may glide gently to the martyr's aid
When he lies down to die.
And many a soldier, on his gory bed,
May turn himself, with lessened pain,
And bless you for the tender words you said,
Now singing in his brain.
So ye, who hold your breath amidst the fight,
Be to your sacred calling true:
Sing on! the far result is not in sight
Of the great good ye do.
The Home Front