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- Poems of American Patriotism - 6/30 -



[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!



[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.



[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.

Poems of American Patriotism - 6/30

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