Page images
PDF
EPUB

And through his verse shall gleam

The swords that flashed in vain, And the men who wore the gray shall seem

To be marshalling again.

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 dimm'd the glistening bayonet,
Each soldier eye shall brightly turn
To where thy sky-born 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,
Then shall thy meteor glances glow,

And cowering foes shall sink beneath
Each gallant arm that strikes below

That lovely messenger of death.

[blocks in formation]

Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
Thy stars 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,
Each 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.

I sing, with a voice too low

To be heard beyond to-day,
In minor keys of my people's woe;

And my songs pass away.
To-morrow hears them not,

To-morrow belongs to fame:
My songs, like the birds’, will be forgot,

And forgotten shall be my name.
And yet who knows! betimes

The grandest songs depart, While the gentle, humble, and low-toned rhymes Will echo from heart to heart.

ABRAM J. RYAN.

COLUMBIA.

Flag of the free heart's hope and home!

By angel hands to valvor given; Thy stars have lit the welkin dome,

And all thy hues were born in heaven. Forever float that standard sheet!

Where breathes the foe that falls before us, With freedom's soil beneath our feet, And freedom's banner streaming o'er us?

JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE.

THE CAUSE OF THE SOUTH.

The fallen cause still waits,

Its bard has not come yet; His song—through one of to-morrow's gates

Shall shine-but never set.

COLUMBIA, Columbia, to glory arise,
The queen of the world, and the child of the skies!
Thy genius commands thee; with rapture behold,
While ages on ages thy splendors unfold.
Thy reign is the last and the noblest of time,
Most fruitful thy soil, most inviting thy clime;
Let the crimes of the east ne'er encrimson thy

name,
Be freedom and science and virtue thy fame.
To conquest and slaughter let Europe aspire;
Whelm nations in blood, and wrap cities in fire;
Thy heroes the rights of mankind shall defend,
And triumph pursue them, and glory attend.
A world is thy realm; for a world be thy laws
Enlarged as thine empire, and just as thy cause;
On Freedom's broad basis that empire shall rise,
Extend with the main, and dissolve with the skies.
Fair Science her gates to thy sons shall unbar,
And the East see thy morn hide the beams of her

star; New bards and new sages unrivalled shall soar To fame unextinguished when time is no more;

But when he comes, he'll sweep

A harp with tears all stringed,
And the very notes he strikes will weep,

As they come, from his hand, woe-winged.

Ah! grand shall be his strain,

And his songs shall fill all climes, And the Rebels shall rise and march again

Down the lines of his glorious rhymes.

To thee, the last refuge of virtue designed,
Shall fly from all nations the best of mankind;
Here, grateful to Heaven, with transport shall

bring Their incense, more fragrant than odors of spring.

Nor less shall thy fair ones to glory ascend,
And genius and beauty in harmony blend;
The graces of form shall awake pure desire,
And the charms of the soul ever cherish the fire;
Their sweetness unmingled, their manners refined,
And virtue's bright image, enstamped on the mind,
With peace and soft rapture shall teach life to

glow,
And light up a smile on the aspect of woe.

Thy fleets to all regions thy power shall display,
The nations admire, and the ocean obey;
Each shore to thy glory its tribute unfold,
And the East and the South yield their spices and

gold. As the dayspring unbounded thy splendor shall

flow, And earth's little kingdoms before thee shall bow, While the ensigns of union, in triumph unfurled, Hush the tumult of war, and give peace to the

world.

Thus, as down a lone valley, with cedars o'er

spread, From war's dread confusion, I pensively strayed, The gloom from the face of fair heaven retired; The wind ceased to murmur, the thunders expired; Perfumes, as of Eden, flowed sweetly along, And a voice, as of angels, enchantingly sung: “Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise, The queen of the world, and the child of the skies!"

TIMOTHY DWIGHT.

But he is sleeping sweetly now,

With all our pretty brood;
So come and sit upon my knee,

And it will do me good.
Oh, Marty! I must tell you all

The trouble in my heart,
And you must do the best you can

To take and bear your part.
You've seen the shadow on my face;

You've felt it day and night;
For it has filled our little home,

And banished all its light.
I did not mean it should be so,

And yet I might have known
That hearts which live as close as ours

Can never keep their own.
But we are fallen on evil times,

And, do what'er I may,
My heart grows sad about the war,

And sadder every day.
I think about it when I work,

And when I try to rest,
And never more than when your head

Is pillowed on my breast;
For then I see the camp-fires blaze,

And sleeping men around,
Who turn their faces toward their homes,

And dream upon the ground.
I think about the dear, brave boys,

My mates in other years,
Who pine for home and those they love,

Till I am choked with tears.
With shouts and cheers they marched away

On glory's shining track,
But, ah! how long, how long they stay!

How few of them come back!
One sleeps beside the Tennessee,

And one beside the James,
And one fought on a gallant ship

And perished in its flames.
And some, struck down by fell disease,

Are breathing out their life;
And others, maimed by cruel wounds,

Have left the deadly strife.
Ah, Marty! Marty! only think

Of all the boys have done And suffered in this weary war!

Brave heroes, every one! Oh, often, often in the night

I heard their voices call: Come on and help us! Is it right

That we should bear it all? '

THE HEART OF THE WAR.

(1864.) Peace in the clover-scented air,

And stars within the dome; And underneath, in dim repose,

A plain, New England home. Within, a murmur of low tones

And sighs from hearts oppressed, Merging in prayer, at last, that brings

The balm of silent rest.

I've closed a hard day's work, Marty,–

The evening chores are done; And you are weary with the house,

And with the little one.

We see him now—the queer slouched hat

Cocked o'er his eye askew;
The shrewd, dry smile; the speech so pat,

So calm, so blunt, so true.
The “Blue-light Elder" knows 'em well;
Says he, “That's Bank's—he's fond of shell;
Lord save his soul! we'll give him—" well!

That's “Stonewall Jackson's way.

And when I kneel and try to pray,

My thoughts are never free,
But cling to those who toil and fight

And die for you and me.
And when I pray for victory,

It seems almost a sin
To fold my hands and ask for what

I will not help to win.
Oh, do not cling to me and cry,

For it will break my heart;
I'm sure you'd rather have me die

Than not to bear my part.
You think that some should stay at home

To care for those away;
But still I'm helpless to decide

If I should go or stay.
For, Marty, all the soldiers love,

And all are loved again;
And I am loved, and love, perhaps,

No more than other men.
I cannot tell, I do not know,

Which way my duty lies,
Or where the Lord would have me build

My fire of sacrifice.
I feel—I know-I am not mean;

And though I seem to boast,
I'm sure that I would give my life

To those who need it most.
Perhaps the Spirit will reveal

That which is fair and right; So, Marty, let us humbly kneel

And pray to Heaven for light.

Silence! ground arms! kneel all! caps off!

Old Blue Light's goin' to pray. Strangle the fool that dares to scoff.

Attention! it's his way. Appealing from his native sod, In forma pauperis to God: "Lay bare Thine arm; stretch forth Thy rod!

Amen!" That's “Stonewall's way.”

He's in the saddle now. Fall in!

Steady! the whole brigade!
Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win

His way out, ball and blade!
What matter if our shoes are worn ?
What matter if our feet are torn ?
“Quick step! we're with him before morn!"

That's “Stonewall Jackson's way.”

The sun's bright lances rout the mists

Of morning, and, by George!
Here's Longstreet, struggling in the lists,

Hemmed in an ugly gorge.
Pope and his Dutchmen, whipped before;

Baynets and grape!” hear Stonewall roar; “Charge, Stuart! Pay off Ashby's score!"

In Stonewall Jackson's way.”

[blocks in formation]

Dash on beneath the smoking dome:

Through level lightnings gallop nearer! One look to Heaven! No thoughts of home: The guidons that we bear are dearer.

CHARGE!
Cling! clang! forward all!
Heaven help those whose horses fall!

Cut left and right!

Then he climbed 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.

They flee before our fierce attack!

They fall! they spread in broken surges! Now, comrades, bear our wounded back, And leave the foeman to his dirges.

WHEEL!
The bugles sound the swift recall:
Cling! clang! backward all!

Home, and good-night!

EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN.

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 blends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

PAUL REVERE'S RIDE.

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.

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!

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 round 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.

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, 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.

[blocks in formation]

“THE WOMEN WHO WENT TO THE FIELD."

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.

HENRY Wadsworth LONGFELLOW.

The women who went to the field, you say,
The women who went to the field; and pray
What did they go for?-just to be in the way?
They'd not know the difference betwixt work and

play.
And what did they know about war, anyway?
What could they do?-of what use could they be?
They would scream at the sight of a gun, don't you

see? Just fancy them round where the bugle-notes play, And the long roll is bidding us on to the fray.

« PreviousContinue »