The journey home

T’ward Richmond from Appomattox, his hand still warm

From the late, friendly and mild long embrace from Grant.

The worst of the strain was over now. Now, no horde,

No cheer from loyal men, no songs, no battle chant.

 

No rebel yell, no graves, no country and no cause.

The journey now, no longer a race, moved t’ward east

Through familiar country and far from yesterday,

Far from the rolling, death foraging battle beast.

 

Northeastward, Buckingham, eastward to Cumberland,

Spring time laid budding trees, weary Traveller’s feet

Onto the old stage road from Lynchburg to Richmond,

By Farmville woods, to camp with bitter Longstreet.

 

Passing through Powhatan and Chesterfield Counties,

With hearts full, women laid more than they were able.

Passing shoe-less youths and old wounded veterans

With oats for Traveller and hay in the stable.

 

Then at last on the south side of the James he paused.

His majestic composure, his sorrow, sadness,

Incomparable dignity, his rectitude,

Opposite Richmond, there, the ruins of madness.

 

Crossed Federal pontoons to the side of the fire

Close to the scars of the once glorious city

Where all mills, warehouses, stores, and dwellings destroyed,

The dignified house where Stonewall laid in pity.

 

Now along Main Street, where people hurried to see,

No joyous, no jubilant victory parade,

Just the five and he in a travelled uniform.

Yet there somehow they, a noble procession made.

 

But those who looked, choked and wept and grew with each step

And widows and old men and maidens came to meet,

To see him, to hear him or to reach and to touch,

Then the procession arrived at East Franklin Street.

 

Strained and almost drawn to tears and grasping at hands

Of the sad townsfolk, he climbed the steps to the house.

Turned, a bow he opened the door and he entered

The house, closed the door and the crowd began to dowse.

 

Did his wife he embrace? Sit quietly to weep?

Did his nightmare commemorate his endeavour?

Did he think and hear his voice call for A.P. Hill?

In the parlour, Lee laid down his sword forever.

 

source

 

Copyright © 2017 Grant Fenton – All Rights Reserved

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