At Kennesaw Mountain (poem by Jack Ballard, Jr.)
Azure sky o’er the dead
Whose heaven-borne spirits now have fled
Through dark vale of David’s dread
To judgment now they came.
The brightness of the humid haze,
No different in the ancient days
Of battle scars, when towns were razed
And so I walk the same.
Even now, the ravaged scar
Of local conflict, distant war:
The land recalls when battles marred
The forests filled with flame.
Some walk in solitude with me
Whose bones wait passive under knee.
Brave to charge, in terror flee
The enemy, they are the same:
For dead and dead are much alike,
As Solomon in wisdom writes,
And Paul whose adage was the fight
Fought good, and finishing the race.
The ghosts lie prostrate in the land
While I cross where berms were planned
As monuments to great last stands
And retreats tinged with shame.
Cannons cross at the Dead Angle,
Where North and South were once entangled
And Southern hope was slowly strangled.
Then the Union won the game.
North, some rode with memories
To darken homes and lives of ease.
Some left limb and black disease
To wander, lasting lame.
Others lie to slowly molder
‘Mong the trees and lonely boulder
Forgotten naught by fellow soldier.
Men have fought for enforced claim,
For various and lofty goals
In these tests of timeless souls
To rise above or fall below.
The trials that men entertain
Are high in any of life’s age.
But the crucible of battle rage
Is more intense and thus the stage
Defines the man: whom he became.
Such purpose is beyond our ken
But higher still is praise to men
To whom God utters, “Well done, friend”
For glory and eternal fame.