“Robert E. Lee” by James A. DeMoss

On one hand, the following poem is about a wrecked and burned-out steamboat. On the other, it’s about Robert E. Lee’s “immortal” name. The fact that it’s about both makes one suspect sarcasm. But DeMoss published the poem in the 1890s, during the heyday of Reconciliation; I’m therefore confident that he was sincere in his sentiments about Lee being “the bravest/Of all men that grew.”Enjoy this rare nautical tribute to Lee!ROBERT E. LEE(Steamer foundered off Vicksbury, Sept. 30, ‘82.)On, thou proud Robert Lee,No longer you’ll plowThe deep river so free,With thy proud heaving prow.Thy beauty, thy splendor,Thy grandeur, thy fame,Have perished___and tenderWe handle thy name.Brave one of tho bravest,Brave captain, brave crew;Thy namesake the bravestOf all men that grew.No more on the riverSo glassy and smooth,Will float thou, no never,And o’er its deep move.How long you have traveledFrom the gulf to mid land;All others out-rivaledOn the sweet silvered strand.Thy days now are numbered,Though thy name will e’er last;On the page it is numberedOf the immortal past.The flames have consumed thee,And laid thee awaste;But thy name, Robert Lee,It can never efface.– James A. DeMoss, from Kansas Zephyrs (1892)

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