Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2013, Volume 34

"Will not these days be by thy poets sung": Poems of the Anglo-African and National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1863–1864

Edited by Elizabeth Lorang and R. J. Weir
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Complete Issue: National Anti-Slavery Standard (22 August 1863)
Belle Bush, "Not One Hath Died in Vain" National Anti-Slavery Standard (22 August 1863): [4]View Poem Image
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FOR THE ANTI-SLAVERY STANDARD.

NOT ONE HATH DIED IN VAIN.

           
Not a warrior went down to the grave in vain, Not one, not one,[2] Of all the thousands in combat slain By the deadly rain, The fearful, terrible, leaden rain, That hissed and thundered along the plain, When the fiends of war held a carnival, And Death was the guest that danced with all On the fields of Gettysburg.[3]
Not a hero for freedom hath died unwept, Not one, not one; Tears, bright tears for the brave are kept; And where they slept— Wounded and mangled, in stillness slept— When the shadows of death o'er their eylids crept, There Love hath been with her calm sweet spell, And her heart's best gift for each one that fell On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not one among them shall be forgot, Not one, not one, Who on that fearfully hallowed spot Bore well his lot— The soldier's perilous weary lot; From deeds like theirs the forget-me-not Of fame springs up, and its fadeless bloom Shall wreath with garlands each lowly tomb On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not one of their number shall be unblessed, Not one, not one; But the grateful hearts of the long oppressed, Their wrongs redressed, By them in courage and strength redressed, Shall sing in chorus and call them blessed, And reverently pause by each grave to tell How bravely, how nobly their brothers fell On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a soldier shall sleep in the grave unsung, Not one, not one; Fame hath a trumpet and Love a tongue, That hearts now wrung— With grief and sorrow and anguish wrung Shall use, to teach to the harps unstrung The lofty speech that is due in praise Of those who gathered their greenest bays On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not one for his country has died in vain, Not one, not one! The God of Justice, whose equal reign O'erlooks the plain— The blood-stained, terrible battle plain— Has care for the souls of the heroes slain. His love takes note of them, every one, He knoweth whose duty was nobly done On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not one went down to the dull dark grave, Not one, not one, But rising victorious from out the wave Of life they gave— The crimson, mysterious tide they gave— For the noble cause they were strong to serve, Their souls passed on to the higher ranks Of the shining hosts that o'erlooked our flanks On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a sacrifice we can make is vain, Not one, not one, That lifts us up from a lower plane To greet the reign— The mild, but firm and impartial reign— Of Justice, that rose with a star-eyed train From the dust, the thunder and battle-smoke, When the light on her Bride, sweet Freedom, broke On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a tyrant sits on a royal throne, Not one, not one, That shall not yield to the power that's grown From the field alone— That blood-stained, terrible field alone— And tremble, while struggling to save his own From the withering blaze of that glorious star, That rose o'er the din and the shock of war On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a traitor bears in the strife a part, Not one, not one, That shall not feel in his soul the smart Of the hero's art, The high, o'ermastering, enduring art By which our freemen with ready dart Drove back the haughty, rebellious horde, That met them proudly with fire and sword On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a patriot lives, or a hero soul, Not one, not one, That shall not yield to the strong control Of thoughts that roll, In solemn rapture and stillness roll, Toward the distant but bright'ning goal Of hopes that oft in the warrior rose, Triumphant over his human woes, On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a wounded soldier is suffering there, Not one, not one, Who bore with a hero heart his share In the fierce warfare, The deadly, terrible, wild warfare, For the cause of Liberty trembling there, But feels to say in his heart, "Thank God, The blood of freemen redeemed the sod On the fields of Gettysburg."
Not a brother is wearing the bondman's chain, Not one, not one, That shall not thrill with the hope again, That their sigh and pain, Their life-long sigh and their torturing pain, Will die, and their chains be rent in twain. In the bloody field and the carnage dire, They see the glimmer of Freedom's fire On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a year shall pass, or a circling age, Not one, not one, That truth shall not in her cause engage To turn the page, The gloriously written immortal page, Traced there in blood and in battle rage, Upon the fearfully "foughten field," When the Bride of Justice stood forth revealed On the fields of Gettysburg.
Not a land is known, or a distant clime, Not one, not one, That shall not thrill with their solemn chime, Or sing in rhyme, In echo's sweet and melodious rhyme, The songs that greeted the halls of time, And sounded in triumph along the dells When Freedom was ringing her marriage bells On the fields of Gettysburg.

Notes

  1. Arabella C. Bush (1830–?), poet and teacher. Relatively little is known about Bush's life. Born in New York, she moved with her family to Pennsylvania at some point before 1853. In 1857 she and her elder sisters founded the Adelphian Institute, a seminary for women in Norristown (Theodore W. Bean, ed., History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania [Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1884], 763). In her preface to Voices of the Morning (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1865), Bush gives the names of twenty-three "papers and magazines which have from time to time published my articles, either as contributions or selections" ([2]). The fact that her list includes the Liberator, the National Anti-Slavery Standard, and the Banner of Light suggests that she had some sympathy with abolition, women's rights, and unorthodox faith. The 1870 census shows that she moved to Belvidere, New Jersey, with her teacher sisters; she is described as coprincipal of another girls' school (the Belvidere Academy). Census records for 1910 suggest that she lived into her eighties.Go back
  2. The awful new scale of Civil War battles forced Americans to grapple with the meaning of individual deaths and disappearances in the context of mass slaughter. Writers like Bush explored and reasserted the significance of single deaths at a moment when the first national cemeteries were being established; this phrase may show the same impulse toward recovery and acknowledgment at work.
     
    Historian Drew Gilpin Faust observes that the Battle of Gettysburg "made the dead—and the problem they represented—starkly visible to northern citizens"; the dedication ceremony that took place at Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863, "acknowledged a new public importance for the dead" (This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War [New York: Knopf, 2009], 99, 101). But the problem of the missing remained. How could the dead be acknowledged if they remained "unknown"? Bush's poem offers the consolation of a divine perspective: "not one" soldier's death was missed by God, and each one furthered the Union's cause.
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  3. Confederate general Robert E. Lee's advance into Pennsylvania provoked panic in the North in June 1863. Confederate and Union armies clashed at Gettysburg. The battle took place July 1–3, 1863, and news of Lee's defeat reached Washington, DC on July 4. As Northerners celebrated, enormous ambulance trains carried thousands of casualties toward city hospitals. By the end of the battle, 23,000 Union soldiers and 28,000 Confederates were killed, wounded, or missing (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The American Civil War [London: Penguin, 1991], 664).Go back