MARSE ROBERT IS ASLEEP

This poem appeared in the
Southern Historical Society Papers
Volume XI
Richmond, Va.
June, 1883. No. 6.

The author, Miss S. B. Valentine, begins, "A Gray Coat relates to his friend, a Blue Coat, the following incident of the late war: General Lee, sorely fatigued by a hard day's march, sat down to rest at the roadside, when he soon fell into a deep sleep. His soldiers, who observed him as he slept, whispered warnings to their nearest comrades not to disturb him. The whisper was then passed from man to man along the line of march."


Marse Robert is Asleep!

Had you heard the distant tramping
On that glowing Summer day!
Had you seen our comrades running
To meet us on the way!
Oh! the wondrous, sudden silence,
Th' unmilitary creep,
As down the line that caution ran,
"Marse Robert is asleep!"

Give me your hand, Old Blue Coat,
Let's talk of this awhile,
For the prettiest march of all the war
Was this of rank and file!"
Was the passing of that army,
When 'twas hard, I ween, to keep
Those men from crying out, "Hurrah!
Marse Robert is asleep!"

There lay that knightly figure,
One hand upon his sword,
The other pressed above his heart,
A vow without a word!
Two laurel leaves had flutter'd down,
For flowers their vigils keep,
And crown'd him, though, I think, they knew
"Marse Robert was asleep!"

In glorious Old Westminster,
No monument of war,
No marble story, half so grand
As this, our army saw!
Our leafy Old Westminster
Virginia's woods -- now keep
Immortal that low whisper,
"Marse Robert is asleep!"

As we clasp hands, Old Blue Coat,
List, Brother of the North,
Had Foreign foe assail'd your homes
You then had known his worth!
Unbroken vigil o'er those homes
It had been his to keep:
Step lightly o'er the border then,
"Marse Robert is asleep!"

He's yours and mine, is Robert Lee,
He's yours and mine, Hurrah!
These tears you shed have seal'd the past,
And closed the wounds of war!
Thus clasping hands, Old Blue Coat,
We'll swear by th' tears you weep,
The sounds of war shall be muffled --
"Marse Robert is asleep!"

Richmond, Va., May, 1880.
 

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