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- Poems of American Patriotism - 10/30 -


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!

OLD IRONSIDES

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,--


Poems of American Patriotism - 10/30

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