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O'Hara, a native of Kentucky, was a teacher and a lawyer, and later an employee of the Treasury Department at Washington. He was a soldier in the Mexican War, and also in the Confederate Army of the Civil War. He was at times upon the editorial staffs of newspapers, and wrote a few poems of choice quality, his most popular poem being the one here given, the Bivouac of the Dead.


This poem was written by O'Hara on the return of the bodies of soldiers slain in the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War. The version given here is correct, though it differs materially from that commonly found in readers.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat

The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet

That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
1 Bivouac, an encampment on guard.


And Glory guards, with solemn round,

The bivouac of the dead.


No rumor of the foe's advance

Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts

Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife

The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife

At dawn shall call to arms.



Their shivered swords are red with rust,

Their pluméd heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,

Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed

The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, in battle gashed,

Are free from anguish now.


The neighboring steed, the flashing blade,

The trumpet's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,

The din and shout are past;
No war's wild note, nor glory's peal,

Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore shall fee

The rapture of the fight.




Like the dread northern hurricane

That sweeps his broad plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain

Came down the serried' foe;
Our heroes felt the shock, and leapt

To meet them on the plain;
And long the pitying sky hath wept

Above our gallant slain.
Sons of our consecrated ground,

Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound

Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil

Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from War his richest spoil

The ashes of her brave.



So 'neath their parent turf they rest,

Far from the gory field;
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast

On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky

Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred hearts and eyes watch by

The heroes' sepulcher.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead!

Dear as the blood you gave,

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1 Serried, dense, crowded.

No impious footsteps here shall tread

The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot

While Fame her record keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot

Where Valor proudly sleeps.


Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone

In deathless songs shall tell,
When many a vanished age hath flown, ,

The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,

Nor Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb.




Compare this poem with Gray's Elegy, page 428, which also treats of the glory of the dead.

What kind of people are referred to in Gray's poem? In O'Hara's ?

Point out figures of speech in each poem that would not fit the other.

Which poem do you like the better? Why?
What is the meaning of lines 51 and 52?
What does line 65 mean?



“Bobbie" Burns is Scotland's pet. A young rustic, with the gift of song, he thrilled Scotland and England alike. Rising from humble beginnings, he became the friend of the leading literary men of Great Britain, and he wrote poems that are of permanent worth.

His life was that of a rollicking, gay, irresponsible "good fellow," good and bad mixed in about equal proportions. But he had a charm of personality which captivated all.

His poetry, much of it, is in Scotch dialect and somewhat difficult to read on that account, but there are bits of charming verse by Burns, written in standard English. His best poems, however, are in dialect.

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