Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

It was a starry night in June ; the air was soft and still, When the “minute-men” from Cambridge came, and gathered

on the hill : Beneath us lay the sleeping town, around us frowned the fleet, But the pulse of freemen, not of slaves, within our bosoms

beat;

And every heart rose high with hope, as fearlessly we said, “We will be numbered with the free, or numbered with the

dead !”

"Bring out the line to mark the trench, and stretch it on the

sward !" The trench is marked—the tools are brought—we utter not

a word, But stack our guns, then fall to work, with mattock and with

spade, A thousand men with sinewy arms, and not a sound is made : So still were we, the stars beneath, that scarce a whisper fell ; We heard the red-coat's musket click, and heard him cry,

“ All's well \"

And here and there a twinkling port, reflected on the deep, In many a wavy shadow showed their sullen guns asleep. Sleep on, thou bloody hireling crew! in careless slumber lie; The trench is growing broad and deep, the breast-work broad

and high : No striplings we, but bear the arms that held the French in

check, The drum that beat at Louisburgh, and thundered in Quebec ! And thou, whose promise is deceit, no more thy word we'll

trust, Thou butcher Gage! thy power and thee we'll humble in

the dust; Thou and thy tory minister have boasted to thy brood, "The lintels of the faithful shall be sprinkled with our blood !" But though these walls those lintels be, thy zeal is all in vain : A thousand freemen shall rise up for every freeman slain; And when o'er trampled crowns and thrones they raise the

mighty shout, This soil their Palestine shall be ! their altar this redoubt!

See how the morn is breaking ! the red is in the sky;
The mist is creeping from the stream that floats in silence by;
The Lively's hull looms through the fog, and they our works

have spied, For the ruddy flash and round shot part in thunder from her

side;

And the Falcon and the Cerberus make every bosom thrill, With gun and shell, and drum and bell, and boatswain's

whistle shrill;

But deep and wider grows the trench, as spade and mattock

ply, For we have to cope with fearful odds, and the time is draw

ing nigh!

Up with the pine-tree banner! Our gallant PRESCOTT stands Amid the plunging shells and shot, and plants it with his hands: Up with the shout I for PUTNAM comes upon his reeking bay, With bloody spur and foamy bit, in haste to join the fray: And POMEROY, with his snow-white hairs, and face all flush

and sweat, Unscathed by French and Indian, wears a youthful glory yet.

But thou, whose soul is glowing in the summer of thy years, Unvanquishable WARREN, thou (the youngest of thy peers) Wert torn, and bred, and shaped, and made to act a patriot's

part, And dear to us thy presence is as heart's blood to the heart ! Well may ye bark, ye British wolves! with leaders such as

they, Not one will fail to follow where they choose to lead the way : As once before, scarce two months since, we followed on your

track, And with our rifles marked the road ye took in going back. Ye slew a sick man in his bed; ye slew, with hands accursed, A mother nursing, and her blood fell on the babe she nursed : By their own doors our kinsmen fell and perished in the strife ; But as we hold a hireling's cheap, and dear a freeman's life,

By Tanner brook and Lincoln bridge, before the shut of sun,
We took the recompense we claimed—a score for every one !

Hark! from the town a trumpet! The barges at the wharf
Are crowded with the living freight—and now they're push-

ing off ;
With clash and glitter, trump and drum, in all its bright array,
Behold the splendid sacrifice move slowly o'er the bay !
And still and still the barges fill, and still across the deep,
Like thunder-clouds along the sky, the hostile transports

sweep;
And now they're forming at the Point-and now the lines

advance :
We see beneath the sultry sun their polished bayonets glance ;
We hear a-near the throbbing drum, the bugle challenge ring:
Quick bursts, and lond, the flashing cloud, and rolls from

wing to wing.
But on the height our bulwark stands, tremendous in its

gloom, As sullen as a tropic sky, and silent as a tomb.

[ocr errors]

And so we waited till we saw, at scarce ten rifles' length,
The old vindictive Saxon spite, in all its stubborn strength;
When sudden, flash on flash, around the jagged rampart burst
From every gun the vivid light upon the foe accurst:
Then quailed a monarchs might before a free-born people’s ire;
Then drank the sward the veteran's life, where swept the yeo-

man's fire;

Then, staggered by the shot, we saw their serried columns

reel, And fall, as falls the bearded rye beneath the reaper's steel : And then arose a mighty shout that might have waked the

dead, “Hurrah! they run the field is won!” “Hurrah ! the foe

is fled !" And every man hath dropped his gun to clutch a neighbor's

hand, As his heart kept praying all the while for Home and Native

Land.

Thrice on that day we stood the shock of thrice a thousand

foes ;

And thrice that day within our lines the shout of victory

rose !

And though our swift fire slackened then, and, reddening in

the skies, We saw, from Charlestown's roofs and walls, the flamy columns

rise ; Yet while we had a cartridge left, we still maintained the fight, Nor gained the foe one foot of ground upon that blood-stained

height.

What though for us no laurels bloom, nor o'er the nameless

brave No sculptured trophy, scroll, nor hatch, records & warriorgrave?

« PreviousContinue »