Ball's Bluff

Ball's Bluff is the third song from Lowell Liebermann's song cycle War Songs, Op. 7.

Date: 1981Composer: Lowell LiebermannText: Herman MelvilleSong Collection: War Songs, op. 7

Print vitals & song text


Ball’s Bluff

By Herman Melville


One noonday, at my window in the town,

I saw a sight–saddest that eyes can see–

Young soldiers marching lustily

Unto the wars,

With fifes, and flags in mouthed pageantry;

While all the porches, walks, and doors

Were rich with ladies cheering royally.

They moved like June morning on the wave,

Their hearts were fresh as clover in its prime

(It was a breezy summer time),

Life throbbed so strong,

How should they dream that Death in a rosy clime

Would come to thin their shining throng?

Youth feels immortal, like the gods sublime.

Weeks passed; and at my window, leaving bed,

By night I mused, of easeful sleep bereft,

On those brave boys (Ah War! thy theft);

Some marching feet

Found pause last by cliffs Potomac cleft;

Wakeful I mused, while in the street

Far footfalls died away till none were left.

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.