Editor’s Note: Abram Joseph Ryan, called “The Poet-Priest of the South,” was a Catholic priest and supporter of the Confederate States of America. He spent a portion of the war as a volunteer chaplain, though never formally joining the military. He so despised Abraham Lincoln that he stopped using his birth name of Abraham, and used the shorter “Abram” for the remainder of his life. After the war, he continued his service as a priest, while writing more poetry that held aloft the principles of the Confederacy. After his death in 1886, a stained glass window was installed in his honor in the Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans, and in 1912-13 a statue was commissioned and installed, signaling his lasting impact.
Land of the gentle and brave!
Our love is as wide as thy woe;
It deepens beside every grave
Where the heart of a hero lies low.
Land of the sunniest skies!
Our love glows the more for thy gloom;
Our hearts, by the saddest of ties,
Cling closest to thee in thy doom.
Land where the desolate weep
In a sorrow no voice may console!
Our tears are but streams, making deep
The ocean of love in our soul.
Land where the victor’s flag waves,
Where only the dead are free!
Each link of the chain that enslaves
But binds us to them and to thee.
Land where the Sign of the Cross
Its shadow hath everywhere shed!
We measure our love by thy loss,
Thy loss by the graves of our dead!