“Rebel Yell” of the Confederate soldier and how it sounded tornthose who first heard it in battle. Yet the point of Davidson’srnanswer is not Southern but generic: the importance of memoriarnto all civilized societies and particuladyrnTo men whose logical eyes might never seernThose living fields I knew where memoryrnWas not yet shut in many books but strode,rnA young Tclemachus, the Old Plank Road.rnBecause they are products of a rationalist society, believingrnonly in “historical process,” Dartmouth, Harvard, and Amherstrnhave no patience with Davidson’s reference to the conflict ofrn1861-1865, the central episode in American history, in makingrnsome comment on contemporary affairs. Their impatiencernwith his anachronism drives him into silence. He is surprisedrnby their vehemence. Then, perhaps to relieve the tension (andrnchange the subject), one of Davidson’s adversaries asks a questionrnabout the great war cry of the Southern soldier:rnThe talk had drifted further than they dreamedrnWhile in the dusk the Adirondacks gleamed.rnAnd all around us in the afterglowrnVermont woods turned to purple, and the slowrnFog-banners mustered out the darkling range.rnThen fiarvard said:rn”Oh, not that war] How strangernThat you should mix it in! Why, who would talkrnOf Sixty-one, or bother to make walkrnOld John Brown’s ghost that’s laid past all debate?rnThere’s no ill-will from here to Scituate.rnWhen I said ‘war’ I meant of course the laternUnpleasantness. I must say you surprisernMe with these dank Faulknerian memories.rnWhy should you care for what we’ve long forgot?rnI’hat’s not the issue now.”rnTwo briar pipes glowed at me, and one said:rn”We’ve heard so much—and so much more havernread—rnAbout that cry the Confederate soldiers gave.rnThe ‘Rebel Yell,’ you know. And yet to savernMy life I could not confidently citernOne decent account of what it sounded like.rnThe books all disagree. Now, won’t you tellrnJust what it was—or, better, give the yell.”rnThe lennessec poet’s reaction to both the inquiry and thernpassion directed against him at the beginning of “Late Answer:rnA Civil War Seminar” concerns how northerners might do wellrnto consult memoria themselves. He suggests an immediaternvisit by all present to a Vermont monument “to the Unionrndead,” an obelisk to be found “not far below” Bread Loaf,rnnear Cornwall Village, where Truman Lane is remembered asrnhaving died in the Wilderness north of Richmond and StillmanrnSmith as having fallen at Donelson, as did Captain Samson atrnCold Harbor. But first Davidson delays responding so as tornconsider whether there is any point in answering. Then comernthe four lines on memory not shut in books quoted just above,rnand a rejoinder quickly fills the poet’s mind, a speech concerningrnsorrow, mourning, brotherhood, and memory—howrnmemory is nurtured or restored; how it is rooted in human nature:rn”The whispering in the marrow spreads to the brain;rnThe remembering heart carries it round againrnTill it beats in the throat, the lips, the weeping eyernAnd is born at last in a blazing wordless outcry.”rnOnce more Davidson mentions ancient memories, portionsrnof an identity that he and the New Englanders share. As is sornoften the case in his verse, he calls up Anglo-Saxon and OldrnNorse images. What tradition means to him is, as in The TallrnMen and “Hermitage,” clearly suggested. The northern scholarsrnwho would “debate by night” have forgotten to mourn, forgottenrnhow we started on the long journey over “the vikingrnwave.” They consider not at allrn”Far-off kinsman dead or a roof burning;rnYet a burning roof, kin dead long ago.rnIf you could weep, would give you right to knowrnThe sound of valor where it dwells with sorrowrnOr, chilled by reason, hides in the deep marrow.rnDid you hear it rousing once at Saratoga?rnOr when the I hghland dead at TiconderogarnLay naked to the stars? Or when the bloodrnOf Jennie McCrea cried out, you understood?rn”We mourned with you then in brotherhood.rnAnd I’ll weep with you now for those whose namesrnBurn on your monuments like altar flames.”rnAt this point we are prepared for the powerful directive conclusionrnthat I summarized above:rn”Come, let no darkness daunt us. Let us gornWhere Cornwall Village dreams not far belowrnAnd on their obelisk read how Truman LanernDied in the Wilderness; Stillman Smith was slainrnAt Donelson; and at Cold HarborrnCaptain Samson. Then, strangely, Alva Barlowrn’Hung by guerrillas!’—the stone does not say where.rnPerhaps it’s not a monument’s affair.rnBut I’ll weep—even for Alva—if you can weeprnFor him, for all, for Southern boys asleeprnLike these your fathers may somewhere have known.rn”We, too, have names that blaze on mouldering stonernAnd I have seen men’s tears fall where they sleptrnAnd heard a shouting while I wept,rnA century off yet louder in my earrnThan all that’s so much magnified and near.rn”Ah, Truman Lane, you heard it well as I!—rnThat rage of belief, the tears, the mysteryrnQuickened the flags of men right willing to die.rnOnly such men could tell what once could be.rnHear what we hear, see what we see.”rnIn completing this extraordinary poem, Davidson treatsrnonce more of images and acts, not of abstract principles.rnMourning, of Northern or Southern dead. Civil War dead.rnMAY 1994/19rnrnrn