A Poem by Abram Joseph Ryan
“A land without ruins is a land without memories —
a land without memories is a land without history.
A land that wears a laurel crown may be fair to see;
but twine a few sad cypress leaves around the brow of any land,
and be that land barren, beautiless and bleak, it becomes lovely
in its consecrated coronet of sorrow, and it wins the sympathy of the heart
and of history. Crowns of roses fade — crowns of thorns endure.
Calvaries and crucifixions take deepest hold of humanity —
the triumphs of might are transient — they pass and are forgotten —
the sufferings of right are graven deepest on the chronicle of nations.”
Yes give me the land where the ruins are spread,
And the living tread light on the hearts of the dead;
Yes, give me a land that is blest by the dust,
And bright with the deeds of the down-trodden just.
Yes, give me the land where the battle’s red blast
Has flashed to the future the fame of the past;
Yes, give me the land that hath legends and lays
That tell of the memories of long vanished days;
Yes, give me a land that hath story and song!
Enshrine the strife of the right with the wrong!
Yes, give me a land with a grave in each spot,
And names in the graves that shall not be forgot;
Yes, give me the land of the wreck and the tomb;
There is grandeur in graves — there is glory in gloom;
For out of the gloom future brightness is born,
As after the night comes the sunrise of morn;
And the graves of the dead with the grass overgrown
May yet form the footstool of liberty’s throne,
And each single wreck in the war path of might
Shall yet be a rock in the temple of right.