39 - The Fall of Richmond
The Fall of Richmond.
The tidings received in the Northern Metropolis.
What mean these peals from every tower,
And crowds like seas that sway?
The cannon reply; they speak the heart
Of the People impassioned, and say—
A city in flags for a city in flames,
Richmond goes Babylon's way—
Sing and pray.
O weary years and woeful wars,
And armies in the grave;
But hearts unquelled at last deter
The helmed dilated Lucifer—
Honor to Grant the brave,
Whose three stars now like Orion's riseWhen Lincoln promoted Grant, in March 1864, to commander in chief of the Army, he gave him the rank of three-star (lieutenant) general. Not even two-star McClellan had achieved that distinction, previously held only by Washington. Melville compares Grant's three stars to the three-star "belt" in Orion, though this winter constellation, in the Northern hemisphere, was not rising in April but setting.
When wreck is on the wave—
Bless his glaive.Generally a bladed pole or spear but also used in poetry to mean sword.
Well that the faith we firmly kept,
And never our aim forswore
For the Terrors that trooped from each recess
When fainting we fought in the Wilderness,
And Hell made loud hurrah;
But God is in Heaven, and Grant in the Town,
And Right through might is Law—
God's way adore.