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- Poems of American Patriotism - 4/30 -


HYMN

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.

TICONDEROGA

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,


Poems of American Patriotism - 4/30

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