Chapters

6 - Lyon* Herman Melville Lyon. Battle of Springfield, Missouri. (August, 1861.) Some hearts there are of deeper sort, Prophetic, sad, Which yet for cause are trebly clad; Known death they fly on: This wizard-heart and heart-of-oak had Lyon. "They are more than twenty thousand strong, We less than five, Too few with such a host to strive.” “Such counsel, fie on! 'Tis battle, or 'tis shame;” and firm stood Lyon. "For help at need in vain we wait— Retreat or fight: Retreat the foe would take for flight, And each proud scion Feel more elate; the end must come," said. By candlelight he wrote the will, And left his all To HerLyon was reported to have willed his estate to the United States. for whom 'twas not enough to fall; Loud neighed Orion Without the tent; drums beat; we marched with Lyon. The night-tramp done, we spied the Vale With guard-fires lit; Day broke, but trooping clouds made gloom of it: “A field to die on,” Presaged in his unfaltering heart, brave Lyon. We fought on the grass, we bled in the corn— Fate seemed malign; His horse the Leader led along the line— Star-browed Orion; Bitterly fearless, he rallied us there, brave Lyon. There came a sound like the slitting of air By a swift sharp sword— A rush of the sound; and the sleek chest broad Of black Orion Heaved, and was fixed; the dead mane waved toward Lyon. “General, you're hurt—this sleet of balls!” He seemed half spent; With moody and bloody brow, he lowly bent: “The field to die on; But not—not yet; the day is long,” breathed Lyon. For a time becharmed there fell a lull In the heart of the fight; The tree-tops nod, the slain sleep light; Warm noon-winds sigh on, And thoughts which he never spake had Lyon. Texans and Indians trim for a charge: “Stand ready, men! Let them come close, right up, and then After the lead, the iron; Fire, and charge back!” So strength returned to Lyon. The Iowa menThe 1st Iowa Infantry were part of Lyon's army. who held the van, Half drilled, were new To battle: “Some one lead us, then we'll do,” Said Corporal Tryon: “Men! I will lead,” and a light glared in Lyon. On they came: they yelped, and fired; His spirit sped; We leveled right in, and the half-breeds fled, Nor stayed the iron, Nor captured the crimson corse of Lyon. This seer foresaw his soldier-doom, Yet willed the fight. He never turned; his only flight Was up to Zion, Where prophets now and armies greet braveIn both his personal published copy of Battle-Pieces and his bound copy of sheets from Battle-Pieces (Copy A and C, respectively), Melville revised "brave" to "pale." In Copy A, he struck through "brave" in pencil and inscribed "pale" in the right margin; in Copy C, he deleted "brave," added a caret before it, and inserted "pale" above. In addition, Melville inscribed only three tentative revisions in Copy A: this one (on page 27) and one each in "The March into Virginia" (p. 23) and "The March to the Sea" (p. 129). On the verso of the front flyleaf of Copy A, Melville also listed two numbers (27 and 129), which correspond to two of the three pages with revisions. The tentative revision of "brave" to "pale" appears on page 27. See "The March to the Sea" for the second listed revision on page 129. The tentative revision in "The March into Virginia" on page 23 does not appear on the list. The editors of the NN Published Poems argue that the appearance of these page numbers indicates Melville's final intention to approve the listed tentative revisions. See "shame" in line 34 of "The March into Virginia" for an alternative theory regarding the non-appearance of "23" in the list. Lyon.