Manibus O date lilia plenis.
Mid the flower-wreathed tombs I stand
Bearing lilies in my hand.
Comrades! in what soldier-grave
Sleeps the bravest of the brave?
Is it he who sank to rest
With his colors round his breast?
Friendship makes his tomb a shrine;
Garlands veil it: ask not mine.
One low grave, yon trees beneath,
Bears no roses, wears no wreath;
Yet no heart more high and warm
Ever dared the battle-storm,
Never gleamed a prouder eye
In the front of victory,
Never foot had firmer tread
On the field where hope lay dead,
Than are hid within this tomb
Where the untended grasses bloom,
And no stone, with feigned distress,
Mocks the sacred loneliness.
Youth and beauty, dauntless will,
Dreams that life could ne’er fulfil,
Here lie buried; here in peace
Wrongs and woes have found release.
Turning from my comrades’ eyes,
Kneeling where a woman lies,
I strew lilies on the grave
Of the bravest of the brave.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson