An Old Question
The war knew many theaters,
McClellan vacillating at the Potomac,
Comic-opera Burnside driving the farmboys
Up the hill again and again
Like clockwork into blood and grass,
Serious Lee striking northward
Only to meet the Minnesota Regiment
And touch the veritable turning-point...
And then there was Lincoln,
Best actor of them all, plain-spoken
Yet with heart and mind in tune
For the mastery of gruesome Mars;
Waiting for the war on the field
To end at last, his duty done –
And then let destiny unfold its hand
With an off-stage crown, a funeral train.
These lights cast on the boards,
Amateur actors traveling up from home –
Were the lines learnt well enough,
The plowing properly done that spring?
And the coffin crossing the prairie,
The wafer sun among the lilacs,
The warbling voice – sacrifice enough,
And memory, for the conflagration?
life's theater, theater... here's a stentorian, dramaturgical old poem: