Defense Media Network

Memorial Day Poem: Decoration Day

This Memorial Day, another poem for those who lost their lives while in service to the nation. Decoration Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was written shortly after the Civil War. The poem first appeared in The Atlantic magazine, for whom Longfellow wrote extensively.

Decoration Day

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth “Decoration Day” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [online resource], Maine Historical Society, Accessed May 25, 2017.


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