Francis M Finch: The Blue and the Gray

Francis M. Finch was born at Ithaca, New York, on 1827. He was educated at Yale and was the Yale class poet for his graduating class in 1849 and was editor of the Yale Magazine. He received honorary degrees from Hamilton College in 1880 and Yale in 1889. He married Eliza Brooke in 1853; she died in 1892. Finch returned to Ithaca to study law. He was admitted to the bar a year later. Finch was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue for the Twenty-sixth District, New York by President Grant, an office he held for four years. Fitch was a close friend of Ezra Cornell and took an active interest in the establishment of Cornell University in 1868. He served as one of its early trustees and its counsel.

In May, 1880, Finch was appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, to fill a vacancy, and in 1881 was reappointed. In the fall of 1881, he was elected to a full term of fourteen years which ran until December 31, 1895.

From the foundation of Cornell's College of Law, in 1887, he gave lectures at the law school and became dean of the College of Law in 1892. Finch was invited to teach rhetoric literature at Cornell but decided against doing so because so much of his time had been devoted to law rather than literature. Indeed, he referred to his poetry as "only incidents along the line of a busy and laborious life." [Kunitz & Haycraft]. His poetry was published only after his death.

Sources: Harry B. Hutchins, The Cornell University School of Law, 1 Green Bag 473-489, at 478 (1889); Stanley J. Kunitz & Howard Haycraft (eds.), American Authors 1600-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of American Literature 272 (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1938).


The Blue and the Gray

By the flow of an inland river,
When the fleets of iron have fled
Where the blades of the grave grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead.

Under the sod and the dew
Waiting the judgment day
Under the one the Blue,
Under the other the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hearts
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike, for the friend and the foe.

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done.
In the storms of the years that are fading,
No braver battle was won.

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;
Under the blossoms, the Blue,
Under the garlands, the Gray.

No more shall the war cry sever
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead.

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting for Judgment day
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.