ROBERT E. LEE CHOOSES HIS WAR

Robert E. Lee Chooses His War
A reading by the author

I am the General, Robert E Lee;
I am the humble protagonist for all Southerners;
the Sword is my calling; the Sword is my profession;
with the Sword we shall set all things to rights.

We fought, and we took the half of Mexico
as land for slavery for the Old Dominion -
the abolitionists stole that land from us,
this time, what we win, by the Sword, will not escape us.

Our South is a great, new, Nation, just being born,
with all the pangs, and hopes, of breaking free:
and with our peculiar institution firm in place.
They call on me to lead, and I cannot fail them,
it is good to hear folk cry out for 'Bobby Lee'.

Oddly, Mister Lincoln offered me
command of all the armies of the North!
So now, it is mine to choose: whether I lead the Feds
against my own people! or if I stick with Dixie.

There is honor, and glory, in choosing which army to lead;
and either way there is some forfeiture, and shame.
So, I will decide it with a coin toss: heads or tails -
and I toss many times to get it right.

How could I go against everything I've got?
my little realm of Arlington; my friends
warlike and daring, every one of them,
and how could I be but eager for the fight?

And all the men who follow me into battle,
and those who oppose me too, for their bit of land,
will worship me forever from their death-bed;
For I am the leader born, the fated: I am the War.

A ghastly plague of killing sweeps over all,
brother eagerly cuts down brother in blind battle
in an unseparable embrace of faceless hate;
man and boy, still: harvested not yet.

When all is destroyed, desolate, and waste,
Lee graciously yields up his army, at the last,
and retains, gallantly, his untarnished sword
as if his steel had wavered or faltered ever
before the bared throat of his own country.