A Tribute to Sam Davis

A Tribute to Sam Davis

by John Trotwood Moore


“Tell me his name and you are free,”  The general said, while from the tree The grim rope dangled threat’ningly

The birds ceased singing—happy birds. That sang of home and mother-words.

The sunshine kissed his cheek—dear sun, It loves a life that’s just begun.

The very breezes held their breath To watch the fight ‘twixt life and death.

And O, how calm and sweet and free  Smiled back the hills of Tennessee!

Smiled back the hills as if to say: “O save your life for us to-day!”

 “Tell me his name and you are free,” The General said, “and I shall see You safe within the Rebel line—

I’d love to save such life as thine.”  A tear gleamed down the ranks of blue.

(The bayonets were tipped with dew); Across the rugged cheek of war  God’s angels rolled a teary star.

The boy looked up, and this they heard:  “And would you have me break my word?”

 A tear stood in the General’s eye: “My boy, I hate to see thee die;

Give me the traitor’s name and fly!” Young Davis smiled, as calm and free As He who walked on Galilee:

“Had I a thousand lives to live, Had I a thousand lives to give,  I’d lose them—nay, I’d gladly die  Before I’d live one life a lie!”

He turned, for not a soldier stirred.  “Your duty, men; I gave my word.”

The hills smiled back a farewell smile, The breeze sobbed o’er his bier awhile,

The birds broke out in glad refrain,  The sunbeams kissed his cheek again,

Then gathering up their blazing bars, They shook his name among the stars.

 O stars, that now his brothers are, O sun, his sire in truth and light, Go tell the listening worlds afar

Of him who died for truth and right. For martyr of all martyrs he

Who died to save an enemy!


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