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Father Abram J. Ryan

Description

"One of the last additions to the cabin side of Wickham’s sculpture park, his statue of Father Ryan (1839–1886) represents “The Poet Priest of the Confederacy.” Born in Norfolk, Virginia of parents originally from Ireland, Abram J. Ryan came to live in St. Louis with his parents at a young age. Ordained in September 1860, Father Ryan served as a Confederate Chaplain beginning in 1862. By 1863 Ryan had lost his younger brother who was killed on the battlefields of the Civil War. He was loved throughout the South for his service and writings. In the hour of defeat he won the heart of the entire South by his poem, Conquered Banner, whose exquisite measure was taken, as he told a friend, from one of the Gregorian chants." " - quoted text is from the 2001 Customs House Museum Online Wickham Exhibit.

Father Abram J. Ryan wrote the Conquered Banner  on hearing of the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox.

The Conquered Banner

Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary;
Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary;
    Furl it, fold it, it is best;
For there's not a man to wave it,
And there's not a sword to save it,
And there's not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
    Furl it, hide it --let it rest!

Take that Banner down! 'tis tattered;
Broken is its staff and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered
    Over whom it floated high.
Oh! 'tis hard for us to fold it;
Hard to think there's non to hold it;
Hard that those who once unrolled it
    Now must furl it with a sigh.

Furl that Banner! furl it sadly!
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,
    Swore it should forever wave;
Swore that foeman's sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag should float forever
    O'er their freedom or their grave!

(continued)

 

Furl it! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
    Cold and dead are lying low;
And that banner --it is trailing!
While around it sounds the wailing
    Of its people in their woe.

For, though conquered, they adore it!
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it!
Weep for those who fell before it!
Pardon those who trailed and tore it!
But, oh! wildly they deplore it,
    Now who furl and fold it so.

Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory,
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory,
And 'twill live in song and story,
    Though its folds are in the dust:
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages--
    Furl its folds though now we must.

Furl that Banner, softly, slowly!
Treat it gently --it is holy--
    For it droops above the dead.
Touch it not --unfold it never,
Let it droop there, furled forever,
    For its people's hopes are dead! 

Picture Gallery
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Father Abram J. Ryan
Father Abram J. Ryan

 

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