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The Martyr BY HERMAN MELVILLE Indicative of the passion of the people on the 15th of April, 1865 Good Friday was the day Of the prodigy and crime, When they killed him in his pity, When they killed him in his prime Of clemency and calm— When with yearning he was filled To redeem the evil-willed, And, though conqueror, be kind; But they killed him in his kindness, In their madness and their blindness, And they killed him from behind. There is sobbing of the strong, And a pall upon the land; But the People in their weeping Bare the iron hand: Beware the People weeping When they bare the iron hand. He lieth in his blood— The father in his face; They have killed him, the Forgiver— The Avenger takes his place, The Avenger wisely stern, Who in righteousness shall do What heavens call him to, And the parricides remand; For they killed him in his kindness, In their madness and their blindness. And his blood is on their hand. There is sobbing of the strong, And a pall upon the land; But the People in their weeping Bare the iron hand: Beware the People weeping
Well a martyr is someone who dies for a particular belief. In this case it seems a certain group of people who knew him are sad, and he was most likely a leader of some kind. Someone these people looked up to and he died for something.