Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Eagle of the Blue

Old Abe

Herman Melville:
The bird commemorated here was, according to the account, borne aloft on a perch beside the standard; went through successive battles and campaigns; was more than once under the surgeon's hands; and at the close of the contest found honorable repose in the capital of Wisconsin, from which state he had gone to the wars.
Aloft he guards the starry folds
Who is the brother of the star;
The bird whose joy is in the wind
Exulteth in the war.
Amid the scream of shells, his scream
Runs shrilling; and the glare
Of eyes that brave the blinding sun
The vollied flame can bear.
No painted plume—a sober hue,
His beauty is his power;
That eager calm of gaze intent
Foresees the Sibyl's hour.
The pride of quenchless strength is his—
Strength which, though chained, avails;
The very rebel looks and thrills—
The anchored Emblem hails.
Austere, he crowns the swaying perch,   
Flapped by the angry flag;
The hurricane from the battery sings,
But his claw has known the crag.
Though scarred in many a furious fray,
No deadly hurt he knew;
Well may we think his years are charmed—
The Eagle of the Blue.



After the Civil War the eagle dwelt in Wisconsin's Capitol, being brought out for conventions of the GAR and the GOP. It is said that when brought into the room he would flap his wings and scream.