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January 26, 1953

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In his brilliant and teeming tapestry of the Civil War, Benét writes of high personages and plain soldiers. In telling how Yankee Jack Ellyat almost died at Gettysburg, Tyrone Power breaks into one of the show's few scenes of action (below). His performance comes as a surprise to many people who, having seen Power only in overstuffed costume movies, could never discover what an uncommonly able actor he is.

Jack Ellyat saw
Through the falling night, that slight grey fringe that was war,
Coming against them, not as it came in pictures
With a ruler-edge, but a crinkled and smudgy line
Like a child's vague scrawl in soft crayon . . .

"By God," he said,
Loading and firing, "You're not going to get this hill,
You're not going to get this hill. By God, but you're not!"
He saw one grey man spin like a crazy dancer
And another fall at his heels --- but the hill kept growing them.

He wouldn't have time to load now --- they were too near.
He was up and screaming. He swung his gun like a club
Through a twilight full of bright stabbings, and felt it crash
On a thing that broke. He had no breath anymore.
He had no thoughts. He was down in the grass.

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