Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Ambrose Bierce > Text of Confederate Flags

A poem by Ambrose Bierce

The Confederate Flags

Title:     The Confederate Flags
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

Tut-tut! give back the flags--how can you care
You veterans and heroes?
Why should you at a kind intention swear
Like twenty Neroes?

Suppose the act was not so overwise--
Suppose it was illegal--
Is 't well on such a question to arise
And pinch the Eagle?

Nay, let's economize his breath to scold
And terrify the alien
Who tackles him, as Hercules of old
The bird Stymphalian.

Among the rebels when we made a breach
Was it to get their banners?
That was but incidental--'t was to teach
Them better manners.

They know the lesson well enough to-day;
Now, let us try to show them
That we 're not only stronger far than they.
(How we did mow them!)

But more magnanimous. You see, my lads,
'T was an uncommon riot;
The warlike tribes of Europe fight for "fads,"
We fought for quiet.

If we were victors, then we all must live
With the same flag above us;
'Twas all in vain unless we now forgive
And make them love us.

Let kings keep trophies to display above
Their doors like any savage;
The freeman's trophy is the foeman's love,
Despite war's ravage.

"Make treason odious?" My friends, you'll find
You can't, in right and reason,
While "Washington" and "treason" are combined--
"Hugo" and "treason."

All human governments must take the chance
And hazard of sedition.
O, wretch! to pledge your manhood in advance
To blind submission.

It may be wrong, it may be right, to rise
In warlike insurrection:
The loyalty that fools so dearly prize
May mean subjection.

Be loyal to your country, yes--but how
If tyrants hold dominion?
The South believed they did; can't you allow
For that opinion?

He who will never rise though rulers plods
His liberties despising
How is he manlier than the _sans culottes_
Who's always rising?

Give back the foolish flags whose bearers fell
Too valiant to forsake them.
Is it presumptuous, this counsel? Well,
I helped to take them.

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: Confederate Flags