POEMS OF AMERICAN PATRIOTISM
CHOSEN BY BRANDER MATTHEWS
AN EDITION REVISED AND EXTENDED
ILLUSTRATED BY N.C. WYETH
TO THE MEMORY OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT
An attempt has been made in the present collection to gather together the patriotic poems of America, those which depict feelings as well as those which describe actions, since these latter are as indicative of the temper of the time. It is a collection, for the most part, of old favorites, for Americans have been quick to take to heart a stirring telling of a daring and noble deed; but these may be found to have gained freshness by a grouping in order. The arrangement is chronological so far as it might be, that the history of America as told by her poets should be set forth. Here and there occur breaks in the story, chiefly because there are fit incidents for song which no poet has fitly sung as yet.
The poems have been printed scrupulously from the best accessible text, and they have not been tinkered in any way, though some few have been curtailed slightly for the sake of space. In a few cases, where the whole poem has not fallen within the scope of this volume, only a fragment is here given. When this has been done, it is pointed out. Brief notes have been prefixed to many of the poems, making plain the occasion of their origin, and removing any chance obscurity of allusion.
NEW YORK, November, 1882.
In the two score years since this collection was prepared many things have happened, and many poets have been in-spired to celebrate men and moods and deeds. It has been found necessary to omit a few of the less important verses in the earlier edition to make room for the most significant of the lyric commemorations of events almost contemporary, and therefore appealing to us more immediately, and perhaps more poignantly.
July 4, 1922.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BOSTON, Ralph Waldo Emerson
PAUL REVERE'S RIDE, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON, Sidney Lanier
HYMN, Ralph Waldo Emerson
TICONDEROGA, V. B. Wilson
GRANDMOTHER'S STORY OF BUNKER HILL BATTLE, Oliver Wendell Holmes
WARREN'S ADDRESS, John Pierpont
THE OLD CONTINENTALS, Guy Humphrey McMaster
NATHAN HALE, Francis Miles Finch
THE LITTLE BLACK-EYED REBEL, Will Carleton
MOLLY MAGUIRE AT MONMOUTH, William Collins
SONG OF MARION'S MEN, William Cullen Bryant
TO THE MEMORY OF THE AMERICANS WHO FELL AT EUTAW, Philip Freneau
GEORGE WASHINGTON, James Russell Lowell
PERRY'S VICTORY ON LAKE ERIE, James Gates Percival
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, Francis Scott Key
THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, Thomas Dunn English
THE AMERICAN FLAG, Joseph Rodman Drake
OLD IRONSIDES, Oliver Wendell Holmes
MONTEREY, Charles Fenno Hoff man
THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD, Theodore O'Hara
HOW OLD BROWN TOOK HARPER'S FERRY, Edmund Clarence Stedman
APOCALYPSE, Richard Realf
THE PICKET GUARD, Ethel Lynn Beers
THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD, James Russell Lowell
BATTLE-HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC, Julia Ward Howe
AT PORT ROYAL, John Greenleaf Whittier
READY, Phoebe Gary
"HOW ARE YOU, SANITARY?", Bret Harte
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS, Charles G. Halpine
JONATHAN TO JOHN, James Russell Lowell
THE CUMBERLAND, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
KEARNY AT SEVEN PINES, Edmund Clarence Stedman
DIRGE FOR A SOLDIER, George H. Boker
BARBARA FRIETCHIE, John Greenleaf Whittier
FREDERICKSBURG, Thomas Bailey Aldrich
MUSIC IN CAMP, John R. Thompson
KEENAN'S CHARGE, George Parsons Lathrop
THE BLACK REGIMENT, George H. Boker
JOHN BURNS OF GETTYSBURG, Bret Harte
TWILIGHT ON SUMTER, Richard Henry Stoddard
THE BAY-FIGHT, Henry Howard Brownell
SHERIDAN'S RIDE, Thomas Buchanan Read
CRAVEN, Henry Newbolt
SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA, Samuel H. M. Byers
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!, Walt Whitman
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, James Russell Lowell
THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, Francis Miles Finch
AT THE FARRAGUT STATUE, Robert Bridges
GRANT, H. C. Bunner
THE BURIAL OF SHERMAN, Richard Watson Gilder
THE MEN BEHIND THE GUNS, John Jerome Rooney
THE REGULAR ARMY MAN, Joseph C. Lincoln
WHEN THE GREAT GRAY SHIPS COME IN, Guy Wetmore Carryl
AD FINEM FIDELES, Guy Wetmore Carry
GROVER CLEVELAND, Joel Benton
A TOAST TO OUR NATIVE LAND, Robert Bridges
FIFTY YEARS, James Weldon Johnson
THE AMERICAN VOLUNTEERS, Marie Van Vorst
I HAVE A RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH, Alan Seeger
THE CHOICE, Rudyard Kipling
ANNAPOLIS, Waldron Kinsolving Post
YANKS, James W. Foley
ANY WOMAN TO A SOLDIER, Grace Ellery Channing
TO PEACE, WITH VICTORY, Corinne Roosevelt Robinson
YOU AND YOU, Edith Wharton
WITH THE TIDE, Edith Wharton
AMERICA'S WELCOME HOME, Henry van Dyke
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, Angela Morgan
SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS RALPH WALDO EMERSON
[sidenote: Dec. 16, 1773] This poem was read in Faneuil Hall, on the Centennial Anniversary of the "Boston Tea-Party," at which a band of men disguised as Indians had quietly emptied into the sea the taxed tea-chests of three British ships.
The rocky nook with hill-tops three Looked eastward from the farms, And twice each day the flowing sea Took Boston in its arms; The men of yore were stout and poor, And sailed for bread to every shore.
And where they went on trade intent They did what freemen can, Their dauntless ways did all men praise, The merchant was a man. The world was made for honest trade,— To plant and eat be none afraid.
The waves that rocked them on the deep To them their secret told; Said the winds that sung the lads to sleep, "Like us be free and bold!" The honest waves refuse to slaves The empire of the ocean caves.
Old Europe groans with palaces, Has lords enough and more;— We plant and build by foaming seas A city of the poor;— For day by day could Boston Bay Their honest labor overpay.
We grant no dukedoms to the few, We hold like rights and shall;— Equal on Sunday in the pew, On Monday in the mall. For what avail the plough or sail, Or land or life, if freedom fail?
The noble craftsmen we promote, Disown the knave and fool; Each honest man shall have his vote, Each child shall have his school. A union then of honest men, Or union nevermore again.
The wild rose and the barberry thorn Hung out their summer pride Where now on heated pavements worn The feet of millions stride.
Fair rose the planted hills behind The good town on the bay, And where the western hills declined The prairie stretched away.
What care though rival cities soar Along the stormy coast: Penn's town, New York, and Baltimore, If Boston knew the most!
They laughed to know the world so wide; The mountains said: "Good-day! We greet you well, you Saxon men, Up with your towns and stay!" The world was made for honest trade,— To plant and eat be none afraid.
"For you," they said, "no barriers be, For you no sluggard rest; Each street leads downward to the sea, Or landward to the West."
O happy town beside the sea, Whose roads lead everywhere to all; Than thine no deeper moat can be, No stouter fence, no steeper wall!
Bad news from George on the English throne: "You are thriving well," said he; "Now by these presents be it known, You shall pay us a tax on tea; 'T is very small,—no load at all,— Honor enough that we send the call."
"Not so," said Boston, "good my lord, We pay your governors here Abundant for their bed and board, Six thousand pounds a year. (Your highness knows our homely word,) Millions for self-government, But for tribute never a cent."
The cargo came! and who could blame If Indians seized the tea, And, chest by chest, let down the same Into the laughing sea? For what avail the plough or sail Or land or life, if freedom fail?
The townsmen braved the English king, Found friendship in the French, And Honor joined the patriot ring Low on their wooden bench.
O bounteous seas that never fail! O day remembered yet! O happy port that spied the sail Which wafted Lafayette! Pole-star of light in Europe's night, That never faltered from the right.
Kings shook with fear, old empires crave The secret force to find Which fired the little State to save The rights of all mankind.
But right is might through all the world; Province to province faithful clung, Through good and ill the war-bolt hurled, Till Freedom cheered and the joy-bells rung.
The sea returning day by day Restores the world-wide mart; So let each dweller on the Bay Fold Boston in his heart, Till these echoes be choked with snows, Or over the town blue ocean flows.
Let the blood of her hundred thousands Throb in each manly vein; And the wit of all her wisest Make sunshine in her brain. For you can teach the lightning speech, And round the globe your voices reach.
And each shall care for other, And each to each shall bend, To the poor a noble brother, To the good an equal friend.
A blessing through the ages thus Shield all thy roofs and towers! God with the fathers, so with us, Thou darling town of ours!
PAUL REVERE'S RIDE
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
[Sidenote: April 18, 1775] This poem is the "Landlord's Tale," the first of the "Tales of a Wayside Inn."
Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five: Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch Of the North Church tower as a signal-light, One, if by land, and two, if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said, Good-night! and with muffled oar Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, Just as the moon rose over the bay, Where swinging wide at her moorings lay The Somerset, British man-of-war; A phantom ship, with each mast and spar Across the moon like a prison-bar, And a huge black hulk, that was magnified By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street Wanders and watches with eager ears, Till in the silence around him he hears The muster of men at the barrack door, The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, And the measured tread of the grenadiers, Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, To the belfry-chamber overhead, And startled the pigeons from their perch On the sombre rafters, that round him made Masses and moving shapes of shade,— By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, To the highest window in the wall, Where he paused to listen and look down A moment on the roofs of the town, And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, In their night-encampment on the hill, Wrapped in silence so deep and still That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, The watchful night-wind, as it went Creeping along from tent to tent, And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" A moment only he feels the spell Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread Of the lonely belfry and the dead; For suddenly all his thoughts are bent On a shadowy something far away, Where the river widens to meet the bay,— A line of black that bends and floats On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere. Now he patted his horse's side, Now gazed at the landscape far and near, Then, impetuous, stamped the earth, And turned and tightened his saddle-girth; But mostly he watched with eager search The belfry-tower of the Old North Church, As it rose above the graves on the hill, Lonely, and spectral, and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight A second lamp in the belfry burns! A hurry of hoofs in a village street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet: That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, The fate of a nation was riding that night; And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep, And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; And under the alders, that skirt its edge, Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge, Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock When he crossed the bridge into Medford town. He heard the crowing of the cock, And the barking of the farmer's dog, And felt the damp of the river fog, That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock, When he rode into Lexington. He saw the gilded weathercock Swim in the moonlight as he passed, And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, Gaze at him with a spectral glare, As if they already stood aghast At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock, When he came to the bridge in Concord town. He heard the bleating of the flock, And the twitter of birds among the trees, And felt the breath of the morning breeze Blowing over the meadows brown. And one was safe and asleep in his bed Who at the bridge would be first to fall, Who that day would be lying dead, Pierced by a British musket-ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read, How the British Regulars fired and fled,— How the farmers gave them ball for ball, From behind each fence and farm-yard wall, Chasing the red-coats down the lane, Then crossing the fields to emerge again Under the trees at the turn of the road, And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm,— A cry of defiance and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo forevermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON
[Sidenote: April 19, 1775] The skirmish at Lexington and the fight at Concord closed all political bickering between Great Britain and her colonies and began the War of the Revolution. The following verses are a fragment of the "Psalm of the West."
Then haste ye, Prescott and Revere! Bring all the men of Lincoln here; Let Chelmsford, Littleton, Carlisle, Let Acton, Bedford, hither file— Oh, hither file, and plainly see Out of a wound leap Liberty.
Say, Woodman April! all in green, Say, Robin April! hast thou seen In all thy travel round the earth Ever a morn of calmer birth? But Morning's eye alone serene Can gaze across yon village-green To where the trooping British run Through Lexington. Good men in fustian, stand ye still; The men in red come o'er the hill, Lay down your arms, damned rebels! cry The men in red full haughtily. But never a grounding gun is heard; The men in fustian stand unstirred; Dead calm, save maybe a wise bluebird Puts in his little heavenly word. O men in red! if ye but knew The half as much as bluebirds do, Now in this little tender calm Each hand would out, and every palm With patriot palm strike brotherhood's stroke Or ere these lines of battle broke.
O men in red! if ye but knew The least of all that bluebirds do, Now in this little godly calm Yon voice might sing the Future's Psalm— The Psalm of Love with the brotherly eyes Who pardons and is very wise— Yon voice that shouts, high-hoarse with ire, Fire!
The red-coats fire, the homespuns fall: The homespuns' anxious voices call, Brother, art hurt? and Where hit, John? And, Wipe this blood, and Men, come on, And Neighbor, do but lift my head, And Who is wounded? Who is dead? Seven are killed. My God! my God! Seven lie dead on the village sod. Two Harringtons, Parker, Hadley, Brown, Monroe and Porter,—these are down. Nay, look! stout Harrington not yet dead. He crooks his elbow, lifts his head. He lies at the step of his own house-door; He crawls and makes a path of gore. The wife from the window hath seen, and rushed; He hath reached the step, but the blood hath gushed; He hath crawled to the step of his own house-door, But his head hath dropped: he will crawl no more. Clasp Wife, and kiss, and lift the head, Harrington lies at his doorstep dead.
But, O ye Six that round him lay And bloodied up that April day! As Harrington fell, ye likewise fell— At the door of the House wherein ye dwell; As Harrington came, ye likewise came And died at the door of your House of Fame.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
[Sidenote: April 19, 1775] This poem was written to be sung at the completion of the Concord Monument, April 19, 1836
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, or leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
V. B. WILSON
[Sidenote: May 10, 1775] After the news of Concord fight, a volunteer expedition from Vermont and Connecticut, under Ethan Alien and Benedict Arnold, seized Ticonderoga and Crown Point, whose military stores were of great service. From its chime of bells, the French called Ticonderoga "Carillon."
The cold, gray light of the dawning On old Carillon falls, And dim in the mist of the morning Stand the grim old fortress walls. No sound disturbs the stillness Save the cataract's mellow roar, Silent as death is the fortress, Silent the misty shore.
But up from the wakening waters Comes the cool, fresh morning breeze, Lifting the banner of Britain, And whispering to the trees Of the swift gliding boats on the waters That are nearing the fog-shrouded land, With the old Green Mountain Lion, And his daring patriot band.
But the sentinel at the postern Heard not the whisper low; He is dreaming of the banks of the Shannon As he walks on his beat to and fro, Of the starry eyes in Green Erin That were dim when he marched away, And a tear down his bronzed cheek courses, 'T is the first for many a day.
A sound breaks the misty stillness, And quickly he glances around; Through the mist, forms like towering giants Seem rising out of the ground; A challenge, the firelock flashes, A sword cleaves the quivering air, And the sentry lies dead by the postern, Blood staining his bright yellow hair.
Then, with a shout that awakens All the echoes of hillside and glen, Through the low, frowning gate of the fortress, Sword in hand, rush the Green Mountain men. The scarce wakened troops of the garrison Yield up their trust pale with fear; And down comes the bright British banner, And out rings a Green Mountain cheer.
Flushed with pride, the whole eastern heavens With crimson and gold are ablaze; And up springs the sun in his splendor And flings down his arrowy rays, Bathing in sunlight the fortress, Turning to gold the grim walls, While louder and clearer and higher Rings the song of the waterfalls.
Since the taking of Ticonderoga A century has rolled away; But with pride the nation remembers That glorious morning in May. And the cataract's silvery music Forever the story tells, Of the capture of old Carillon, The chime of the silver bells.
GRANDMOTHER'S STORY OF BUNKER HILL BATTLE AS SHE SAW IT FROM THE BELFRY
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
[Sidenote: June 17, 1775]
'Tis like stirring living embers when, at eighty, one remembers All the achings and the quakings of "the times that tried men's souls"; When I talk of Whig and Tory, when I tell the Rebel story, To you the words are ashes, but to me they're burning coals.
I had heard the muskets' rattle of the April running battle; Lord Percy's hunted soldiers, I can see their red coats still; But a deadly chill comes o'er me, as the day looms up before me, When a thousand men lay bleeding on the slopes of Bunker's Hill.
'Twas a peaceful summer's morning, when the first thing gave us warning Was the booming of the cannon from the river and the shore: "Child," says grandma, "what's the matter, what is all this noise and clatter? Have those scalping Indian devils come to murder us once more?" Poor old soul! my sides were shaking in the midst of all my quaking To hear her talk of Indians when the guns began to roar: She had seen the burning village, and the slaughter and the pillage, When the Mohawks killed her father, with their bullets through his door.
Then I said, "Now, dear old granny, don't you fret and worry any, For I'll soon come back and tell you whether this is work or play; There can't be mischief in it, so I won't be gone a minute"— For a minute then I started. I was gone the livelong day.
No time for bodice-lacing or for looking-glass grimacing; Down my hair went as I hurried, tumbling half-way to my heels; God forbid your ever knowing, when there's blood around her flowing, How the lonely, helpless daughter of a quiet household feels!
In the street I heard a thumping; and I knew it was the stumping Of the Corporal, our old neighbor, on that wooden leg he wore, With a knot of women round him,—it was lucky I had found him,— So I followed with the others, and the Corporal marched before.
They were making for the steeple,—the old soldier and his people; The pigeons circled round us as we climbed the creaking stair, Just across the narrow river—O, so close it made me shiver!— Stood a fortress on the hilltop that but yesterday was bare.
Not slow our eyes to find it; well we knew who stood behind it, Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the stubborn walls were dumb: Here were sister, wife, and mother, looking wild upon each other, And their lips were white with terror as they said, THE HOUR HAS COME!
The morning slowly wasted, not a morsel had we tasted, And our heads were almost splitting with the cannons' deafening thrill, When a figure tall and stately round the rampart strode sedately; It was PRESCOTT, one since told me; he commanded on the hill.
Every woman's heart grew bigger when we saw his manly figure, With the banyan buckled round it, standing up so straight and tall; Like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out for pleasure, Through the storm of shells and cannon-shot he walked around the wall.
At eleven the streets were swarming, for the red-coats' ranks were forming; At noon in marching order they were moving to the piers; How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we looked far down and listened To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted grenadiers!
At length the men have started, with a cheer (it seemed faint-hearted), In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsacks on their backs, And the reddening, rippling water, as after a sea-fight's slaughter, Round the barges gliding onward blushed like blood along their tracks.
So they crossed to the other border, and again they formed in order; And the boats came back for soldiers, came for soldiers, soldiers still: The time seemed everlasting to us women faint and fasting,— At last they're moving, marching, marching proudly up the hill.
We can see the bright steel glancing all along the lines advancing— Now the front rank fires a volley—they have thrown away their shot; Far behind the earthwork lying, all the balls above them flying, Our people need not hurry; so they wait and answer not.
Then the Corporal, our old cripple (he would swear sometimes and tipple),— He had heard the bullets whistle (in the old French war) before,— Calls out in words of jeering, just as if they all were hearing,— And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty belfry floor:—
"Oh! fire away, ye villains, and earn King George's shillin's, But ye'll waste a ton of powder afore a 'rebel' falls; You may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as safe as Dan'l Malcolm Ten foot beneath the gravestone that you've splintered with your balls!"
In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepidation Of the dread approaching moment, we are well-nigh breathless all; Though the rotten bars are failing on the rickety belfry railing, We are crowding up against them like the waves against a wall.
Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,—nearer,— nearer, When a flash—a curling smoke-wreath—then a crash—the steeple shakes— The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud is rended; Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder-cloud it breaks!
O the sight our eyes discover as the blue-black smoke blows over! The red-coats stretched in windrows as a mower rakes his hay; Here a scarlet heap is lying, there a headlong crowd is flying Like a billow that has broken and is shivered into spray.
Then we cried, "The troops are routed! they are beat—it can't be doubted! God be thanked, the fight is over!"—Ah! the grim old soldier's smile! "Tell us, tell us why you look so?" (we could hardly speak, we shook so),— "Are they beaten? Are they beaten? ARE they beaten?"— "Wait a while."
O the trembling and the terror! for too soon we saw our error: They are baffled, not defeated; we have driven them back in vain; And the columns that were scattered, round the colors that were tattered, Toward the sullen silent fortress turn their belted breasts again.
All at once, as we are gazing, lo the roofs of Charlestown blazing! They have fired the harmless village; in an hour it will be down! The Lord in heaven confound them, rain his fire and brimstone round them,— The robbing, murdering red-coats, that would burn a peaceful town!
They are marching, stern and solemn; we can see each massive column As they near the naked earth-mound with the slanting walls so steep. Have our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noiseless haste departed? Are they panic-struck and helpless? Are they palsied or asleep?
Now! the walls they're almost under! scarce a rod the foes asunder! Not a firelock flashed against them! up the earthwork they will swarm! But the words have scarce been spoken, when the ominous calm is broken, And a bellowing crash has emptied all the vengeance of the storm!
So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted backward to the water, Fly Pigot's running heroes and the frightened braves of Howe; And we shout, "At last they're done for, it's their barges they have run for: They are beaten, beaten, beaten; and the battle's over now!"
And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough old soldier's features, Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we would ask: "Not sure," he said; "keep quiet,—once more, I guess, they'll try it— Here's damnation to the cut-throats!" then he handed me his flask,
Saying, "Gal, you're looking shaky; have a drop of old Jamaiky: I'm afraid there'll be more trouble afore this job is done;" So I took one scorching swallow; dreadful faint I felt and hollow, Standing there from early morning when the firing was begun.
All through those hours of trial I had watched a calm clock dial, As the hands kept creeping, creeping,—they were creeping round to four, When the old man said, "They're forming with their bayonets fixed for storming: It's the death grip that's a coming,—they will try the works once more."
With brazen trumpets blaring, the flames behind them glaring, The deadly wall before them, in close array they come; Still onward, upward toiling, like a dragon's fold uncoiling— Like the rattlesnake's shrill warning the reverberating drum!
Over heaps all torn and gory—shall I tell the fearful story, How they surged above the breastwork, as a sea breaks over a deck; How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men retreated, With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swimmers from a wreck?
It has all been told and painted; as for me, they say I fainted, And the wooden-legged old Corporal stumped with me down the stair: When I woke from dreams affrighted the evening lamps were lighted,— On the floor a youth was lying; his bleeding breast was bare.
And I heard through all the flurry, "Send for WARREN! hurry! hurry! Tell him here's a soldier bleeding, and he'll come and dress his wound!" Ah, we knew not till the morrow told its tale of death and sorrow, How the starlight found him stiffened on the dark and bloody ground.
Who the youth was, what his name was, where the place from which he came was, Who had brought him from the battle, and had left him at our door, He could not speak to tell us; but 'twas one of our brave fellows, As the homespun plainly showed us which the dying soldier wore.
For they all thought he was dying, as they gathered 'round him crying,— And they said, "O, how they'll miss him!" and, "What will his mother do?" Then, his eyelids just unclosing like a child's that has been dozing, He faintly murmured, "Mother!"—and—I saw his eyes were blue.
—"Why, grandma, how you're winking!"—Ah, my child, it sets me thinking Of a story not like this one. Well, he somehow lived along; So we came to know each other, and I nursed him like a—mother, Till at last he stood before me, tall, and rosy-cheeked, and strong.
And we sometimes walked together in the pleasant summer weather; —"Please to tell us what his name was?"—Just your own, my little dear,— There's his picture Copley painted: we became so well acquainted, That—in short, that's why I'm grandma, and you children all are here!
[Sidenote: June 17, 1775] Joseph Warren was commissioned by Massachusetts as a Major-General three days before the battle of Bunker Hill, at which he fought as a volunteer. He was one of the last to leave the field, and as a British officer in the redoubt called to him to surrender, a ball struck him in the forehead, killing him instantly.
Stand! the ground's your own, my braves! Will ye give it up to slaves? Will ye look for greener graves? Hope ye mercy still? What's the mercy despots feel? Hear it in that battle-peal! Read it on yon bristling steel. Ask it,—ye who will.
Fear ye foes who kill for hire? Will ye to your homes retire? Look behind you!—they're a-fire! And, before you, see Who have done it!—From the vale On they come!—And will ye quail?— Leaden rain and iron hail Let their welcome be!
In the God of battles trust! Die we may,—and die we must;— But, O, where can dust to dust Be consigned so well, As where Heaven its dews shall shed On the martyred patriot's bed, And the rocks shall raise their head, Of his deeds to tell!
THE OLD CONTINENTALS
GUY HUMPHREY McMASTER
[Sidenote: 1775—1783] The nucleus of the Continental Army was the New England force gathered before Boston, to the command of which Washington had been appointed two days before the battle of Bunker Hill, although he arrived too late to take part in that fight.
In their ragged regimentals Stood the old continentals, Yielding not, When the grenadiers were lunging, And like hail fell the plunging Cannon-shot; When the files Of the isles From the smoky night encampment, bore the banner of the rampant Unicorn, And grummer, grummer, grummer rolled the roll of the drummer, Through the morn! Then with eyes to the front all, And with guns horizontal, Stood our sires;
And the balls whistled deadly, And in streams flashing redly Blazed the fires; As the roar On the shore, Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the green-sodded acres Of the plain; And louder, louder, louder cracked the black gunpowder, Cracking amain!
Now like smiths at their forges Worked the red St. George's Cannoneers; And the "villainous saltpetre" Rung a fierce, discordant metre Round their ears; As the swift Storm-drift, With hot sweeping anger, came the horse-guards' clangor On our flanks. Then higher, higher, higher burned the old-fashioned fire Through the ranks!
Then the old-fashioned colonel Galloped through the white infernal Powder-cloud; And his broad-sword was swinging, And his brazen throat was ringing Trumpet loud. Then the blue Bullets flew, And the trooper-jackets redden at the touch of the leaden Rifle-breath; And rounder, rounder, rounder roared the iron six pounder, Hurling death!
FRANCIS MILES FINCH
[Sidenote: Sept. 22, 1776] After the retreat from Long Island, Washington needed information as to the British strength. Captain Nathan Hale, a young man of twenty-one, volunteered to get this. He was taken, inside the enemy's lines, and hanged as a spy, regretting that he had but one life to lose for his country.
To drum-beat and heart-beat, A soldier marches by: There is color in his cheek, There is courage in his eye, Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat In a moment he must die.
By starlight and moonlight, He seeks the Briton's camp; He hears the rustling flag, And the armed sentry's tramp; And the starlight and moonlight His silent wanderings lamp.
With slow tread and still tread, He scans the tented line; And he counts the battery guns By the gaunt and shadowy pine; And his slow tread and still tread Gives no warning sign.
The dark wave, the plumed wave, It meets his eager glance; And it sparkles 'neath the stars, Like the glimmer of a lance— A dark wave, a plumed wave, On an emerald expanse.
A sharp clang, a steel clang, And terror in the sound! For the sentry, falcon-eyed, In the camp a spy hath found; With a sharp clang, a steel clang, The patriot is bound.
With calm brow, steady brow, He listens to his doom; In his look there is no fear, Nor a shadow-trace of gloom; But with calm brow and steady brow He robes him for the tomb.
In the long night, the still night, He kneels upon the sod; And the brutal guards withhold E'en the solemn Word of God! In the long night, the still night, He walks where Christ hath trod.
'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn, He dies upon the tree; And he mourns that he can lose But one life for Liberty; And in the blue morn, the sunny morn, His spirit-wings are free.
But his last words, his message-words, They burn, lest friendly eye Should read how proud and calm A patriot could die, With his last words, his dying words, A soldier's battle-cry.
From the Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf, From monument and urn, The sad of earth, the glad of heaven, His tragic fate shall learn; And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf The name of HALE shall burn.
THE LITTLE BLACK-EYED REBEL
[Sidenote: Between Sept. 26, 1777, and June 17, 1778] The heroine's name was Mary Redmond, and she lived in Philadelphia. During the occupation of that town by the British, she was ever ready to aid in the secret delivery of the letters written home by the husbands and fathers fighting in the Continental Army.
A boy drove into the city, his wagon loaded down With food to feed the people of the British-governed town; And the little black-eyed rebel, so innocent and sly, Was watching for his coming from the corner of her eye.
His face looked broad and honest, his hands were brown and tough, The clothes he wore upon him were homespun, coarse, and rough; But one there was who watched him, who long time lingered nigh, And cast at him sweet glances from the corner of her eye.
He drove up to the market, he waited in the line; His apples and potatoes were fresh and fair and fine; But long and long he waited, and no one came to buy, Save the black-eyed rebel, watching from the corner of her eye.
"Now who will buy my apples?" he shouted, long and loud; And "Who wants my potatoes?" he repeated to the crowd; But from all the people round him came no word of a reply, Save the black-eyed rebel, answering from the corner of her eye.
For she knew that 'neath the lining of the coat he wore that day, Were long letters from the husbands and the fathers far away, Who were fighting for the freedom that they meant to gain or die; And a tear like silver glistened in the corner of her eye.
But the treasures—how to get them? crept the question through her mind, Since keen enemies were watching for what prizes they might find: And she paused a while and pondered, with a pretty little sigh; Then resolve crept through her features, and a shrewdness fired her eye.
So she resolutely walked up to the wagon old and red; "May I have a dozen apples for a kiss?" she sweetly said: And the brown face flushed to scarlet; for the boy was some what shy, And he saw her laughing at him from the corner of her eye.
"You may have them all for nothing, and more, if you want," quoth he. "I will have them, my good fellow, but can pay for them," said she; And she clambered on the wagon, minding not who all were by, With a laugh of reckless romping in the corner of her eye.
Clinging round his brawny neck, she clasped her fingers white and small, And then whispered, "Quick! the letters! thrust them underneath my shawl! Carry back again this package, and be sure that you are spry!" And she sweetly smiled upon him from the corner of her eye.
Loud the motley crowd were laughing at the strange, ungirlish freak, And the boy was scared and panting, and so dashed he could not speak; And, "Miss, I have good apples," a bolder lad did cry; But she answered, "No, I thank you," from the corner of her eye.
With the news of loved ones absent to the dear friends they would greet, Searching them who hungered for them, swift she glided through the street. "There is nothing worth the doing that it does not pay to try," Thought the little black-eyed rebel, with a twinkle in her eye.
MOLLY MAGUIRE AT MONMOUTH
[Sidenote: June 28, 1778] The battle of Monmouth was indecisive, but the Americans held the field, and the British retreated and remained inactive for the rest of the summer.
On the bloody field of Monmouth Flashed the guns of Greene and Wayne. Fiercely roared the tide of battle, Thick the sward was heaped with slain. Foremost, facing death and danger, Hessian, horse, and grenadier, In the vanguard, fiercely fighting, Stood an Irish Cannonier.
Loudly roared his iron cannon, Mingling ever in the strife, And beside him, firm and daring, Stood his faithful Irish wife. Of her bold contempt of danger Greene and Lee's Brigades could tell, Every one knew "Captain Molly," And the army loved her well.
Surged the roar of battle round them, Swiftly flew the iron hail, Forward dashed a thousand bayonets, That lone battery to assail. From the foeman's foremost columns Swept a furious fusillade, Mowing down the massed battalions In the ranks of Greene's Brigade.
Fast and faster worked the gunner, Soiled with powder, blood, and dust, English bayonets shone before him, Shot and shell around him burst; Still he fought with reckless daring, Stood and manned her long and well, Till at last the gallant fellow Dead—beside his cannon fell.
With a bitter cry of sorrow, And a dark and angry frown, Looked that band of gallant patriots At their gunner stricken down. "Fall back, comrades, it is folly Thus to strive against the foe." "No! not so," cried Irish Molly; "We can strike another blow."
* * * * *
Quickly leaped she to the cannon, In her fallen husband's place, Sponged and rammed it fast and steady, Fired it in the foeman's face. Flashed another ringing volley, Roared another from the gun; "Boys, hurrah!" cried gallant Molly, "For the flag of Washington."
Greene's Brigade, though shorn and shattered, Slain and bleeding half their men, When they heard that Irish slogan, Turned and charged the foe again. Knox and Wayne and Morgan rally, To the front they forward wheel, And before their rushing onset Clinton's English columns reel.
Still the cannon's voice in anger Rolled and rattled o'er the plain, Till there lay in swarms around it Mangled heaps of Hessian slain. "Forward! charge them with the bayonet!" 'Twas the voice of Washington, And there burst a fiery greeting From the Irish woman's gun.
Monckton falls; against his columns Leap the troops of Wayne and Lee, And before their reeking bayonets Clinton's red battalions flee. Morgan's rifles, fiercely flashing, Thin the foe's retreating ranks, And behind them onward dashing Ogden hovers on their flanks.
Fast they fly, these boasting Britons, Who in all their glory came, With their brutal Hessian hirelings To wipe out our country's name. Proudly floats the starry banner, Monmouth's glorious field is won, And in triumph Irish Molly Stands beside her smoking gun.
SONG OF MARION'S MEN
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
[Sidenote: 1780-1781] While the British Army held South Carolina, Marion and Sumter gathered bands of partisans and waged a vigorous guerilla warfare most harassing and destructive to the invader.
Our band is few, but true and tried, Our leader frank and bold; The British soldier trembles When Marion's name is told. Our fortress is the good greenwood Our tent the cypress-tree; We know the forest round us, As seamen know the sea. We know its walls of thorny vines, Its glades of reedy grass, Its safe and silent islands Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery, That little dread us near! On them shall light at midnight A strange and sudden fear: When, waking to their tents on fire, They grasp their arms in vain, And they who stand to face us Are beat to earth again. And they who fly in terror deem A mighty host behind, And hear the tramp of thousands Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release From danger and from toil; We talk the battle over, And share the battle's spoil. The woodland rings with laugh and shout As if a hunt were up, And woodland flowers are gathered To crown the soldier's cup. With merry songs we mock the wind That in the pine-top grieves, And slumber long and sweetly On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon The band that Marion leads— The glitter of their rifles, The scampering of their steeds. 'Tis life to guide the fiery barb Across the moonlight plain; 'Tis life to feel the night-wind That lifts his tossing mane. A moment in the British camp— A moment—and away Back to the pathless forest, Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee, Grave men with hoary hairs; Their hearts are all with Marion, For Marion are their prayers. And lovely ladies greet our band With kindliest welcoming, With smiles like those of summer, And tears like those of spring. For them we wear these trusty arms, And lay them down no more Till we have driven the Briton, Forever, from our shore.
TO THE MEMORY OF THE AMERICANS WHO FELL AT EUTAW
[Sidenote: Sept. 8, 1781] The fight of Eutaw Springs, although called a drawn battle, resulted in the withdrawal of the British troops from South Carolina.
At Eutaw Springs the valiant died: Their limbs with dust are covered o'er— Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide; How many heroes are no more!
If, in this wreck of ruin, they Can yet be thought to claim the tear, Oh, smite your gentle breast, and say, The friends of freedom slumber here!
Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain, If goodness rules thy generous breast, Sigh for the wasted rural reign; Sigh for the shepherds, sunk to rest!
Stranger, their humble graves adorn; You too may fall, and ask a tear; 'Tis not the beauty of the morn That proves the evening shall be clear,—
They saw their injur'd country's woe; The flaming town, the wasted field; Then rush'd to meet the insulting foe; They took the spear—but left the shield.
Led by thy conquering genius, Greene, The Britons they compell'd to fly: None distant view'd the fatal plain, None griev'd, in such a cause, to die,—
But, like the Parthians, fam'd of old, Who, flying, still their arrows threw; These routed Britons, full as bold Retreated, and retreating slew.
Now rest in peace, our patriot band; Though far from Nature's limits thrown, We trust they find a happier land, A brighter sunshine of their own.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
[Sidenote: July 8, 1775] This is a fragment from the ode for the centenary of Washington's taking command of the American army at Cambridge.
Soldier and statesman, rarest unison; High-poised example of great duties done Simply as breathing, a world's honors worn As life's indifferent gifts to all men born; Dumb for himself, unless it were to God, But for his barefoot soldiers eloquent, Tramping the snow to coral where they trod, Held by his awe in hollow-eyed content; Modest, yet firm as Nature's self; unblamed Save by the men his nobler temper shamed; Never seduced through show of present good By other than unsetting lights to steer New-trimmed in Heaven, nor than his steadfast mood More steadfast, far from rashness as from fear, Rigid, but with himself first, grasping still In swerveless poise the wave-beat helm of will; Not honored then or now because he wooed The popular voice, but that he still withstood; Broad-minded, higher-souled, there is but one Who was all this and ours, and all men's—WASHINGTON.
PERRY'S VICTORY ON LAKE ERIE
JAMES GATES PERCIVAL
[Sidenote: Sept. 10, 1813] Throughout the war of 1812 with Great Britain, the navy was more successful than the army. In the battle on Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry captured six British vessels.
Bright was the morn,—the waveless bay Shone like a mirror to the sun; 'Mid greenwood shades and meadows gay, The matin birds their lays begun: While swelling o'er the gloomy wood Was heard the faintly-echoed roar,— The dashing of the foaming flood, That beat on Erie's distant shore.
The tawny wanderer of the wild Paddled his painted birch canoe, And, where the wave serenely smiled, Swift as the darting falcon, flew; He rowed along that peaceful bay, And glanced its polished surface o'er, Listening the billow far away, That rolled on Erie's lonely shore.
What sounds awake my slumbering ear, What echoes o'er the waters come? It is the morning gun I hear, The rolling of the distant drum. Far o'er the bright illumined wave I mark the flash,—I hear the roar, That calls from sleep the slumbering brave, To fight on Erie's lonely shore.
See how the starry banner floats, And sparkles in the morning ray: While sweetly swell the fife's gay notes In echoes o'er the gleaming bay: Flash follows flash, as through yon fleet Columbia's cannons loudly roar, And valiant tars the battle greet, That storms on Erie's echoing shore.
O, who can tell what deeds were done, When Britain's cross, on yonder wave, Sunk 'neath Columbia's dazzling sun, And met in Erie's flood its grave? Who tell the triumphs of that day, When, smiling at the cannon's roar, Our hero, 'mid the bloody fray, Conquered on Erie's echoing shore.
Though many a wounded bosom bleeds For sire, for son, for lover dear, Yet Sorrow smiles amid her weeds,— Affliction dries her tender tear; Oh! she exclaims, with glowing pride, With ardent thoughts that wildly soar, My sire, my son, my lover died, Conquering on Erie's bloody shore.
Long shall my country bless that day, When soared our Eagle to the skies; Long, long in triumph's bright array, That victory shall proudly rise: And when our country's lights are gone, And all its proudest days are o'er, How will her fading courage dawn, To think on Erie's bloody shore!
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
[Sidenote: Sept. 14, 1813] After the British had burned the Capitol at Washington, in August, 1813, they retired to their ships, and on September 12th and 13th, they made an attack on Baltimore. This poem was written on the morning after the bombardment of Fort McHenry, while the author was a prisoner on the British fleet.
Oh! say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming; Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam; Its full glory reflected now shines on the stream; 'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh! long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is the band who so vauntingly swore, 'Mid the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, A home and a country they'd leave us no more? Their blood hath washed out their foul footsteps' pollution; No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved home and the war's desolation; Blessed with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just, And this be our motto, "In God is our trust": And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
THOMAS DUNN ENGLISH
[Sidenote: Jan. 8 1815] The treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States was signed at Ghent, December 14, 1814; but before the news crossed the ocean, Pakenham, with twelve thousand British veterans, attacked New Orleans, defended by Andrew Jackson with five thousand Americans, mostly militia. The British were repulsed with a loss of two thousand; the American loss was trifling.
Here, in my rude log cabin, Few poorer men there be Among the mountain ranges Of Eastern Tennessee. My limbs are weak and shrunken, White hairs upon my brow, My dog—lie still, old fellow!— My sole companion now. Yet I, when young and lusty, Have gone through stirring scenes, For I went down with Carroll To fight at New Orleans.
You say you'd like to hear me The stirring story tell Of those who stood the battle And those who fighting fell. Short work to count our losses— We stood and dropp'd the foe As easily as by firelight Men shoot the buck or doe. And while they fell by hundreds Upon the bloody plain, Of us, fourteen were wounded, And only eight were slain.
The eighth of January, Before the break of day, Our raw and hasty levies Were brought into array. No cotton-bales before us— Some fool that falsehood told; Before us was an earthwork, Built from the swampy mould. And there we stood in silence, And waited with a frown, To greet with bloody welcome The bulldogs of the Crown.
The heavy fog of morning Still hid the plain from sight, When came a thread of scarlet Marked faintly in the white. We fired a single cannon, And as its thunders roll'd The mist before us lifted In many a heavy fold. The mist before us lifted, And in their bravery fine Came rushing to their ruin The fearless British line.
Then from our waiting cannons Leap'd forth the deadly flame, To meet the advancing columns That swift and steady came. The thirty-twos of Crowley And Bluchi's twenty-four, To Spotts's eighteen-pounders Responded with their roar, Sending the grape-shot deadly That marked its pathway plain, And paved the road it travell'd With corpses of the slain.
Our rifles firmly grasping, And heedless of the din, We stood in silence waiting For orders to begin. Our fingers on the triggers, Our hearts, with anger stirr'd, Grew still more fierce and eager As Jackson's voice was heard: "Stand steady! Waste no powder Wait till your shots will tell! To-day the work you finish— See that you do it well!"
Their columns drawing nearer, We felt our patience tire, When came the voice of Carroll, Distinct and measured, "Fire!" Oh! then you should have mark'd us Our volleys on them pour Have heard our joyous rifles Ring sharply through the roar, And seen their foremost columns Melt hastily away As snow in mountain gorges Before the floods of May.
They soon reform'd their columns, And 'mid the fatal rain We never ceased to hurtle Came to their work again. The Forty-fourth is with them, That first its laurels won With stout old Abercrombie Beneath an eastern sun. It rushes to the battle, And, though within the rear Its leader is a laggard, It shows no signs of fear.
It did not need its colonel, For soon there came instead An eagle-eyed commander, And on its march he led. 'Twas Pakenham, in person, The leader of the field; I knew it by the cheering That loudly round him peal'd; And by his quick, sharp movement, We felt his heart was stirr'd, As when at Salamanca, He led the fighting Third.
I raised my rifle quickly, I sighted at his breast, God save the gallant leader And take him to his rest! I did not draw the trigger, I could not for my life. So calm he sat his charger Amid the deadly strife, That in my fiercest moment A prayer arose from me,— God save that gallant leader, Our foeman though he be.
Sir Edward's charger staggers: He leaps at once to ground, And ere the beast falls bleeding Another horse is found. His right arm falls—'tis wounded; He waves on high his left; In vain he leads the movement, The ranks in twain are cleft. The men in scarlet waver Before the men in brown, And fly in utter panic— The soldiers of the Crown!
I thought the work was over, But nearer shouts were heard, And came, with Gibbs to head it, The gallant Ninety-third. Then Pakenham, exulting, With proud and joyous glance, Cried, "Children of the tartan— Bold Highlanders—advance! Advance to scale the breastworks And drive them from their hold, And show the staunchless courage That mark'd your sires of old!"
His voice as yet was ringing, When, quick as light, there came The roaring of a cannon, And earth seemed all aflame. Who causes thus the thunder The doom of men to speak? It is the Baritarian, The fearless Dominique. Down through the marshall'd Scotsmen The step of death is heard, And by the fierce tornado Falls half the Ninety-third.
The smoke passed slowly upward, And, as it soared on high, I saw the brave commander In dying anguish lie. They bear him from the battle Who never fled the foe; Unmoved by death around them His bearers softly go. In vain their care, so gentle, Fades earth and all its scenes; The man of Salamanca Lies dead at New Orleans.
But where were his lieutenants? Had they in terror fled? No! Keane was sorely wounded And Gibbs as good as dead. Brave Wilkinson commanding, A major of brigade, The shatter'd force to rally, A final effort made. He led it up our ramparts, Small glory did he gain— Our captives some, while others fled, And he himself was slain.
The stormers had retreated, The bloody work was o'er; The feet of the invaders Were seen to leave our shore. We rested on our rifles And talk'd about the fight, When came a sudden murmur Like fire from left to right; We turned and saw our chieftain, And then, good friend of mine, You should have heard the cheering That rang along the line.
For well our men remembered How little when they came, Had they but native courage, And trust in Jackson's name; How through the day he labored, How kept the vigils still, Till discipline controlled us, A stronger power than will; And how he hurled us at them Within the evening hour, That red night in December, And made us feel our power.
In answer to our shouting Fire lit his eye of gray; Erect, but thin and pallid, He passed upon his bay. Weak from the baffled fever, And shrunken in each limb, The swamps of Alabama Had done their work on him. But spite of that and lasting, And hours of sleepless care, The soul of Andrew Jackson Shone forth in glory there.
THE AMERICAN FLAG
JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
[Sidenote: May 29, 1819] The penultimate quatrain [enclosed in brackets] ended the poem as Drake wrote it, but Fits Greene Halleck suggested the final four lines, and Drake accepted his friend's quatrain in place of his own.
When Freedom, from her mountain height, Unfurled her standard to the air, She tore the azure robe of night, And set the stars of glory there! She mingled with its gorgeous dyes The milky baldric of the skies, And striped its pure celestial white With streakings of the morning light, Then, from his mansion in the sun, She called her eagle-bearer down, And gave into his mighty hand The symbol of her chosen land!
Majestic monarch of the cloud! Who rear'st aloft thy regal form, To hear the tempest-tramping loud, And see the lightning-lances driven, When stride the warriors of the storm, And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven! Child of the sun! to thee 'tis given To guard the banner of the free, To hover in the sulphur smoke, To ward away the battle stroke, And bid its blendings shine afar, Like rainbows on the cloud of war, The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly, The sign of hope and triumph high! When speaks the signal-trumpet tone, And the long line comes gleaming on, (Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet, Has dimmed the glist'ning bayonet), Each soldier's eye shall brightly turn To where thy meteor-glories burn, And, as his springing steps advance, Catch war and vengeance from the glance! And when the cannon-mouthings loud Heave in wild wreaths the battle-shroud, And gory sabres rise and fall, Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall! There shall thy victor-glances glow, And cowering foes shall shrink beneath, Each gallant arm that strikes below, The lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean's wave Thy star shall glitter o'er the brave; When Death, careering on the gale, Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail, And frighted waves rush wildly back Before the broadside's reeling rack, The dying wanderer of the sea Shall look, at once, to heaven and thee, And smile, to see thy splendors fly, In triumph, o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home, By angel hands to valor given! Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, And all thy hues were born in heaven!
[And fixed as yonder orb divine, That saw thy bannered blaze unfurled, Shall thy proud stars resplendent shine, The guard and glory of the world.]
Forever float that standard sheet! Where breathes the foe but falls before us? With Freedom's soil beneath our feet, And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us!
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Sept. 16, 1830 The frigate Constitution was launched in 1797, and took part in the war with Tripoli in 1804. In 1812 she captured the British Guerriere on August 19th, and the British Java on December 29th. After the war she served as a training ship. In 1830 it was proposed to break her up, which called forth this indignant poem. In 1876 she was refitted, and in 1878 she took over the American exhibits to the Paris Exhibition. She now lies out of commission in Rotten Row, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky; Beneath it rung the battle shout, And burst the cannon's roar;— The meteor of the ocean air Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood And waves were white below, No more shall feel the victor's tread, Or know the conquered knee;— The harpies of the shore shall pluck The eagle of the sea!
Oh, better that her shattered hulk Should sink beneath the wave; Her thunders shook the mighty deep, And there should be her grave; Nail to the mast her holy flag, Set every threadbare sail, And give her to the God of storms,— The lightning and the gale!
CHARLES FENNO HOFFMAN
[Sidenote: Sept. 19-24, 1846] The assaulting American army at the attack on Monterey numbered six thousand six hundred and twenty-five; the defeated Mexicans were about ten thousand.
We were not many—we who stood Before the iron sleet that day; Yet many a gallant spirit would Give half his years if but he could Have with us been at Monterey.
Now here, now there, the shot it hailed In deadly drifts of fiery spray, Yet not a single soldier quailed When wounded comrades round them wailed Their dying shout at Monterey.
And on—still on our column kept, Through walls of flame, its withering way Where fell the dead, the living stept, Still charging on the guns which swept The slippery streets of Monterey.
The foe himself recoiled aghast, When, striking where he strongest lay, We swooped his flanking batteries past, And, braving full their murderous blast, Stormed home the towers of Monterey.
Our banners on those turrets wave, And there our evening bugles play; Where orange-boughs above their grave Keep green the memory of the brave Who fought and fell at Monterey.
We are not many—we who pressed Beside the brave who fell that day; But who of us has not confessed He'd rather share their warrior rest Than not have been at Monterey?
THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD
[Sidenote: Feb. 22, 23, 1847] This poem was written to commemorate the bringing home of the bodies of the Kentucky soldiers who fell at Buena Vista, and their burial at Frankfort at the cost of the State.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo; No more on life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On fame's eternal camping ground Their silent tents are spread, And glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe's advance Now swells upon the wind; No troubled thought at midnight haunts Of loved ones left behind; No vision of the morrow's strife The warrior's dream alarms; No braying horn, nor screaming fife, At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust, Their plumed heads are bowed; Their haughty banner, trailed in dust, Is now their martial shroud. And plenteous funeral tears have washed The red stains from each brow, And the proud forms, by battle gashed, Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade, The bugle's stirring blast, The charge, the dreadful cannonade, The din and shout are past; Nor war's wild note nor glory's peal Shall thrill with fierce delight Those breasts that never more may feel The rapture of the fight.
Like the fierce northern hurricane That sweeps his great plateau, Flushed with the triumph yet to gain, Came down the serried foe. Who heard the thunder of the fray Break o'er the field beneath, Knew well the watchword of that day Was "Victory or death."
Long had the doubtful conflict raged O'er all that stricken plain, For never fiercer fight had waged The vengeful blood of Spain; And still the storm of battle blew, Still swelled the gory tide; Not long, our stout old chieftain knew, Such odds his strength could bide.
'T was in that hour his stern command Called to a martyr's grave The flower of his beloved land, The nation's flag to save. By rivers of their father's gore His first-born laurels grew, And well he deemed the sons would pour Their lives for glory too.
Full many a norther's breath has swept O'er Angostura's plain— And long the pitying sky has wept Above the mouldering slain. The raven's scream, or eagle's flight, Or shepherd's pensive lay, Alone awakes each sullen height That frowned o'er that dread fray.
Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Ye must not slumber there, Where stranger steps and tongues resound Along the heedless air; Your own proud land's heroic soil Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil— The ashes of her brave. So, 'neath their parent turf they rest, Far from the gory field, Borne to a Spartan mother's breast, On many a bloody shield; The sunshine of their native sky Smiles sadly on them here, And kindred eyes and hearts watch by The heroes' sepulchre.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead, Dear as the blood ye gave; No impious footstep here shall tread The herbage of your grave; Nor shall your glory be forgot While Fame her record keeps, Or Honor points the hallowed spot Where Valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone, In deathless song shall tell, When many a vanished age hath flown The story how ye fell; Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight, Nor Time's remorseless doom, Shall dim one ray of glory's light That gilds your deathless tomb.
HOW OLD BROWN TOOK HARPER'S FERRY
EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN
[Sidenote: Oct. 16-Dec. 2, 1859] It was on Sunday, October 16th, that John Brown took the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. On the 18th he was captured. On December 2d he was hanged. One year later began the War which caused the abolition of slavery.
John Brown in Kansas settled, like a steadfast Yankee farmer, Brave and godly, with four sons, all stalwart men of might. There he spoke aloud for freedom, and the Borderstrife grew warmer, Till the Rangers fired his dwelling, in his absence, in the night; And Old Brown Osawatomie Brown, Came homeward in the morning—to find his house burned down.
Then he grasped his trusty rifle and boldly fought for freedom; Smote from border unto border the fierce, invading band; And he and his brave boys vowed—-so might Heaven help and speed 'em!— They would save those grand old prairies from the curse that blights the land; And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Said, "Boys, the Lord will aid us!" and he shoved his ramrod down.
And the Lord did aid these men, and they labored day and even, Saving Kansas from its peril; and their very lives seemed charmed, Till the ruffians killed one son, in the blessed light of Heaven,— In cold blood the fellows slew him, as he journeyed all unarmed; Then Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Shed not a tear, but shut his teeth, and frowned a terrible frown!
Then they seized another brave boy,—not amid the heat of battle, But in peace, behind his ploughshare,—and they loaded him with chains, And with pikes, before their horses, even as they goad their cattle, Drove him cruelly, for their sport, and at last blew out his brains; Then Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Raised his right hand up to Heaven, calling Heaven's vengeance down. And he swore a fearful oath, by the name of the Almighty, He would hunt this ravening evil that had scathed and torn him so; He would seize it by the vitals; he would crush it day and night; he Would so pursue its footsteps, so return it blow for blow, That Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Should be a name to swear by, in backwoods or in town!
Then his beard became more grizzled, and his wild blue eye grew wilder, And more sharply curved his hawk's-nose, snuffing battle from afar; And he and the two boys left, though the Kansas strife waxed milder, Grew more sullen, till was over the bloody Border War, And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Had gone crazy, as they reckoned by his fearful glare and frown.
So he left the plains of Kansas and their bitter woes behind him, Slipt off into Virginia, where the statesmen all are born, Hired a farm by Harper's Ferry, and no one knew where to find him, Or whether he'd turned parson, or was jacketed and shorn; For Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Mad as he was, knew texts enough to wear a parson's gown.
He bought no ploughs and harrows, spades and shovels, and such trifles; But quietly to his rancho there came, by every train, Boxes full of pikes and pistols, and his well-beloved Sharp's rifles; And eighteen other madmen joined their leader there again. Says Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, "Boys, we've got an army large enough to march and take the town!"
"Take the town, and seize the muskets, free the negroes and then arm them; Carry the County and the State, ay, and all the potent South. On their own heads be the slaughter, if their victims rise to harm them— These Virginians! who believed not, nor would heed the warning mouth." Says Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, "The world shall see a Republic, or my name is not John Brown."
'T was the sixteenth of October, on the evening of a Sunday: "This good work," declared the captain, "shall be on a holy night!" It was on a Sunday evening, and before the noon of Monday, With two sons, and Captain Stephens, fifteen privates—black and white, Captain Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Marched across the bridged Potomac, and knocked the sentry down;
Took the guarded armory-building, and the muskets and the cannon; Captured all the county majors and the colonels, one by one; Scared to death each gallant scion of Virginia they ran on, And before the noon of Monday, I say, the deed was done. Mad Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, With his eighteen other crazy men, went in and took the town.
Very little noise and bluster, little smell of powder made he; It was all done in the midnight, like the Emperor's coup d'etat. "Cut the wires! Stop the rail-cars! Hold the streets and bridges!" said he, Then declared the new Republic, with himself for guiding star,— This Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown; And the bold two thousand citizens ran off and left the town.
Then was riding and railroading and expressing here and thither; And the Martinsburg Sharpshooters and the Charlestown Volunteers, And the Shepherdstown and Winchester Militia hastened whither Old Brown was said to muster his ten thousand grenadiers. General Brown! Osawatomie Brown!! Behind whose rampant banner all the North was pouring down.
But at last, 't is said, some prisoners escaped from Old Brown's durance, And the effervescent valor of the Chivalry broke out, When they learned that nineteen madmen had the marvelous assurance— Only nineteen—thus to seize the place and drive them straight about; And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Found an army come to take him, encamped around the town.
But to storm, with all the forces I have mentioned, was too risky; So they hurried off to Richmond for the Government Marines, Tore them from their weeping matrons, fired their souls with Bourbon whiskey, Till they battered down Brown's castle with their ladders and machines; And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Received three bayonet stabs, and a cut on his brave old crown.
Tallyho! the old Virginia gentry gather to the baying! In they rushed and killed the game, shooting lustily away; And whene'er they slew a rebel, those who came too late for slaying, Not to lose a share of glory, fired their bullets in his clay; And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, Saw his sons fall dead beside him, and between them laid him down.
How the conquerors wore their laurels; how they hastened on the trial; How Old Brown was placed, half dying, on the Charlestown court-house floor; How he spoke his grand oration, in the scorn of all denial; What the brave old madman told them,—these are known the country o'er. "Hang Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown." Said the judge, "and all such rebels!" with his most judicial frown.
But, Virginians, don't do it! for I tell you that the flagon, Filled with blood of Old Brown's offspring, was first poured by Southern hands; And each drop from Old Brown's life-veins, like the red gore of the dragon, May spring up a vengeful Fury, hissing through your slave-worn lands! And Old Brown, Osawatomie Brown, May trouble you more than ever, when you've nailed his coffin down!
[Sidenote: April 19, 1861] The first life lost in the battle with rebellion was that of Private Arthur Ladd, of the Sixth Massachusetts, killed in the attack of the Baltimore mob.
Straight to his heart the bullet crushed; Down from his breast the red blood gushed, And o'er his face a glory rushed.
A sudden spasm shook his frame, And in his ears there went and came A sound as of devouring flame.
Which in a moment ceased, and then The great light clasped his brows again, So that they shone like Stephen's when
Saul stood apart a little space And shook with shuddering awe to trace God's splendors settling o'er his face.
Thus, like a king, erect in pride, Raising clean hands toward heaven, he cried: "All hail the Stars and Stripes!" and died.
Died grandly. But before he fell— (O blessedness ineffable!) Vision apocalyptical
Was granted to him, and his eyes, All radiant with glad surprise, Looked forward through the Centuries,
And saw the seeds which sages cast In the world's soil in cycles past, Spring up and blossom at the last;
Saw how the souls of men had grown, And where the scythes of Truth had mown Clear space for Liberty's white throne;
Saw how, by sorrow tried and proved, The blackening stains had been removed Forever from the land he loved;
Saw Treason crushed and Freedom crowned, And clamorous Faction, gagged and bound, Gasping its life out on the ground.
* * * * *
With far-off vision gazing clear Beyond this gloomy atmosphere Which shuts us out with doubt and fear
He—marking how her high increase Ran greatening in perpetual lease Through balmy years of odorous Peace
Greeted in one transcendent cry Of intense, passionate ecstasy The sight which thrilled him utterly;
Saluting, with most proud disdain Of murder and of mortal pain, The vision which shall be again!
So, lifted with prophetic pride, Raised conquering hands to heaven and cried: "All hail the Stars and Stripes!" and died.
THE PICKET GUARD
ETHEL LYNN BEERS
[Sidenote: Sept., 1861] The stereotyped announcement, "All Quiet on the Potomac," was followed one day in September, 1861, by the words, "A Picket Shot," and these so moved the authoress that she wrote this poem on the impulse of the moment.
"All quiet along the Potomac," they say, "Except now and then a stray picket Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro, By a rifleman hid in the thicket. 'Tis nothing—a private or two, now and then, Will not count in the news of the battle; Not an officer lost—only one of the men, Moaning out, all alone, the death rattle."
All quiet along the Potomac to-night, Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming; Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon, Or the light of the watch-fires, are gleaming. A tremulous sigh, as the gentle night-wind Through the forest-leaves softly is creeping; While stars up above, with their glittering eyes, Keep guard—for the army is sleeping.
There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread, As he tramps from the rock to the fountain, And thinks of the two in the low trundle-bed Far away in the cot on the mountain. His musket falls slack—his face, dark and grim, Grows gentle with memories tender, As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep— For their mother—may Heaven defend her!
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then, That night, when the love yet unspoken Leaped up to his lips—when low-murmured vows Were pledged to be ever unbroken. Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes, He dashes off tears that are welling, And gathers his gun closer up to its place As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine-tree— The footstep is lagging and weary; Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light, Toward the shades of the forest so dreary. Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves? Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing? It looked like a rifle—"Ah! Mary, good-bye!" And the life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
All quiet along the Potomac to-night, No sound save the rush of the river; While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead— The picket's off duty forever.
THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
[Sidenote: Oct., 1861]
Along a riverside, I know not where, I walked one night in mystery of dream; A chill creeps curdling yet beneath my hair, To think what chanced me by the pallid gleam Of a moon-wraith that waned through haunted air.
Pale fireflies pulsed within the meadow-mist Their halos, wavering thistledowns of light; The loon, that seemed to mock some goblin tryst, Laughed; and the echoes, huddling in affright, Like Odin's hounds, fled baying down the night.
Then all was silent, till there smote my ear A movement in the stream that checked my breath: Was it the slow plash of a wading deer? But something said, "This water is of Death! The Sisters wash a shroud,—ill thing to hear!"
I, looking then, beheld the ancient Three Known to the Greek's and to the Northman's creed, That sit in shadow of the mystic Tree, Still crooning, as they weave their endless brede, One song: "Time was, Time is, and Time shall be."
No wrinkled crones were they, as I had deemed, But fair as yesterday, to-day, to-morrow, To mourner, lover, poet, ever seemed; Something too high for joy, too deep for sorrow, Thrilled in their tones, and from their faces gleamed.
"Still men and nations reap as they have strawn," So sang they, working at their task the while; The fatal raiment must be cleansed ere dawn; For Austria? Italy? the Sea-Queen's isle? O'er what quenched grandeur must our shroud be drawn?
Or is it for a younger, fairer corse, That gathered States for children round his knees, That tamed the wave to be his posting-horse, Feller of forests, linker of the seas, Bridge-builder, hammerer, youngest son of Thor's?
"What make we, murmur'st thou? and what are we? When empires must be wound, we bring the shroud, The time-old web of the implacable Three: Is it too coarse for him, the young and proud? Earth's mightiest deigned to wear it,—why not he?"
"Is there no hope?" I moaned, "so strong, so fair! Our Fowler whose proud bird would brook erewhile No rival's swoop in all our western air! Gather the ravens, then, in funeral file For him, life's morn yet golden in his hair?"
"Leave me not hopeless, ye unpitying dames! I see, half seeing. Tell me, ye who scanned The stars, Earth's elders, still must noblest aims Be traced upon oblivious ocean-sands? Must Hesper join the wailing ghosts of names?"
"When grass-blades stiffen with red battle-dew Ye deem we choose the victor and the slain: Say, choose we them that shall be leal and true To the heart's longing, the high faith of brain? Yet there the victory lies, if ye but knew."
"Three roots bear up Dominion: Knowledge, Will,— These twain are strong, but stronger yet the third,— Obedience,—'t is the great tap-root that still, Knit round the rock of Duty, is not stirred, Though Heaven-loosed tempests spend their utmost skill."
"Is the doom sealed for Hesper? 'T is not we Denounce it, but the Law before all time: The brave makes danger opportunity; The waverer, paltering with the chance sublime, Dwarfs it to peril: which shall Hesper be?"
"Hath he let vultures climb his eagle's seat To make Jove's bolts purveyors of their maw? Hath he the Many's plaudits found more sweet Than Wisdom? held Opinion's wind for Law? Then let him hearken for the doomster's feet."
"Rough are the steps, slow-hewn in flintiest rock, States climb to power by; slippery those with gold Down which they stumble to eternal mock: No chafferer's hand shall long the sceptre hold, Who, given a Fate to shape, would sell the block."
"We sing old Sagas, songs of weal and woe, Mystic because too cheaply understood; Dark sayings are not ours; men hear and know, See Evil weak, see strength alone in Good, Yet hope to stem God's fire with walls of tow."
"Time Was unlocks the riddle of Time Is, That offers choice of glory or of gloom; The solver makes Time Shall Be surely his. But hasten, Sisters! for even now the tomb Grates its slow hinge and calls from the abyss."
"But not for him," I cried, "not yet for him, Whose large horizon, westering, star by star Wins from the void to where on Ocean's rim The sunset shuts the world with golden bar, Not yet his thews shall fail, his eye grow dim!"
"His shall be larger manhood, saved for those That walk unblenching through the trial-fires; Not suffering, but faint heart, is worst of woes, And he no base-born son of craven sires, Whose eye need blench confronted with his foes."
"Tears may be ours, but proud, for those who win Death's royal purple in the foeman's lines; Peace, too, brings tears; and 'mid the battle-din, The wiser ear some text of God divines, For the sheathed blade may rust with darker sin."
"God, give us peace! not such as lulls to sleep, But sword on thigh, and brow with purpose knit! And let our Ship of State to harbor sweep, Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit, And her leashed thunders gathering for their leap!"
So cried I with clenched hands and passionate pain, Thinking of dear ones by Potomac's side; Again the loon laughed mocking, and again The echoes bayed far down the night and died, While waking I recalled my wandering brain.
BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
JULIA WARD HOWE
[Sidenote: Nov., 1861] This war-song was written to the tune of "John Brown's Body,"—a tune to which many thousands of Volunteers were marching to the front.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps. His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel: "As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal; Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel, Since God is marching on."
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat: Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free. While God is marching on.
AT PORT ROYAL
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
The tent-lights glimmer on the land, The ship-lights on the sea; The night-wind smooths with drifting sand Our track on lone Tybee.
At last our grating keels outslide, Our good boats forward swing; And while we ride the land-locked tide, Our negroes row and sing.
For dear the bondman holds his gifts Of music and of song: The gold that kindly Nature sifts Among his sands of wrong;
The power to make his toiling days And poor home-comforts please; The quaint relief of mirth that plays With sorrow's minor keys.
Another glow than sunset's fire Has filled the West with light, Where field and garner, barn and byre, Are blazing through the night.
The land is wild with fear and hate, The rout runs mad and fast; From hand to hand, from gate to gate, The flaming brand is passed.
The lurid glow falls strong across Dark faces broad with smiles; Not theirs the terror, hate, and loss That fire yon blazing piles.
With oar-strokes timing to their song, They weave in simple lays The pathos of remembered wrong, The hope of better days,—
The triumph-note that Miriam sung, The joy of uncaged birds: Softening with Afric's mellow tongue Their broken Saxon words.
SONG OF THE NEGRO BOATMEN
O, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come To set de people free; An' massa tink it day ob doom, An' we ob jubilee. De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves He jus' as 'trong as den; He say de word: we las' night slaves; To-day, de Lord's freemen. De yam will grow, de cotton blow, We'll hab de rice an' corn: O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear De driver blow his horn!
Ole massa on he trabbels gone; He leaf de land behind; De Lord's breff blow him furder on, Like corn-shuck in de wind. We own de hoe, we own de plough, We own de hands dat hold; We sell de pig, we sell de cow, But nebber chile be sold. De yam will grow, de cotton blow, We'll hab de rice an' corn: O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear De driver blow his horn!
We pray de Lord: he gib us signs Dat some day we be free; De norf-wind tell it to de pines, De wild-duck to de sea; We tink it when de church-bell ring, We dream it in de dream; De rice-bird mean it when he sing, De eagle when he scream. De yam will grow, de cotton blow, We'll hab de rice an' corn: O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear De driver blow his horn!
We know de promise nebber fail, An' nebber lie de word; So like de 'postles in de jail, We waited for de Lord: An' now he open ebery door An' trow away de key; He tink we lub him so before, We lub him better free. De yam will grow, de cotton blow, He'll gib de rice an' corn: O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear De driver blow his horn!
So sing our dusky gondoliers; And with a secret pain, And smiles that seem akin to tears, We hear the wild refrain.
We dare not share the negro's trust, Nor yet his hope deny; We only know that God is just, And every wrong shall die. Rude seems the song; each swarthy face Flame-lighted, ruder still: We start to think that hapless race Must shape our good or ill;
That laws of changeless justice bind Oppressor with oppressed; And, close as sin and suffering joined, We march to Fate abreast.
Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be Our sign of blight or bloom,— The Vala-song of Liberty, Or death-rune of our doom!
Loaded with gallant soldiers, A boat shot in to the land, And lay at the right of Rodman's Point With her keel upon the sand.
Lightly, gayly, they came to shore, And never a man afraid; When sudden the enemy opened fire From his deadly ambuscade.
Each man fell flat on the bottom Of the boat; and the captain said: "If we lie here, we all are captured, And the first who moves is dead!"
Then out spoke a negro sailor, No slavish soul had he; "Somebody's got to die, boys, And it might as well be me!"
Firmly he rose, and fearlessly Stepped out into the tide; He pushed the vessel safely off, Then fell across her side:
Fell, pierced by a dozen bullets, As the boat swung clear and free;— But there wasn't a man of them that day Who was fitter to die than he!
"HOW ARE YOU, SANITARY"
[Sidenote: 1861-1865] Early in the war was organized the U. S. Sanitary Commission, to supply comforts to the soldier in the field from the voluntary contributions of the men and women at home. Out of this grew the Red-Cross Associations of Europe.
Down the picket-guarded lane Rolled the comfort-laden wain, Cheered by shouts that shook the plain, Soldier-like and merry: Phrases such as camps may teach, Sabre-cuts of Saxon speech, Such as "Bully!" "Them's the peach!" "Wade in, Sanitary!"
Right and left the caissons drew As the car went lumbering through, Quick succeeding in review Squadrons military; Sunburnt men with beards like frieze, Smooth-faced boys, and cries like these,— "U. S. San. Com." "That's the cheese!" "Pass in, Sanitary!"
In such cheer it struggled on Till the battle front was won, Then the car, its journey done, Lo! was stationary; And where bullets whistling fly, Came the sadder, fainter cry, "Help us, brothers, ere we die,— Save us, Sanitary!"
Such the work. The phantom flies, Wrapped in battle clouds that rise; But the brave—whose dying eyes, Veiled and visionary, See the jasper gates swung wide, See the parted throng outside— Hears the voice to those who ride: "Pass in, Sanitary!"
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS
CHARLES G. HALPINE
Comrades known in marches many, Comrades, tried in dangers many, Comrades, bound by memories many, Brothers let us be. Wounds or sickness may divide us, Marching orders may divide us, But whatever fate betide us, Brothers of the heart are we.
Comrades, known by faith the clearest, Tried when death was near and nearest, Bound we are by ties the dearest, Brothers evermore to be. And, if spared, and growing older, Shoulder still in line with shoulder, And with hearts no thrill the colder, Brothers ever we shall be.