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George Washington Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Washington by Annette Wynne
  2. A Little Boy and a Cherry Tree by Annette Wynne
  3. On the Birthday of Washington by John Brainard
  4. The Rose-Tree at the Birthplace of Washington by Sarah J. Hale
  5. Washington's Birthday by Hezekiah Butterworth
  6. Washington's Ruse by John B. Tabb
  7. Battle of Trenton by Anonymous
  8. Valley Forge by Thomas Buchanan Read
  9. Washington by Daniel Webster
  10. Great Washington by Annette Wynne
  11. Washington's Birthday by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
  12. When Our Land Was New by Annette Wynne

If there are spots on his character, they are like the spots on the sun, only discernible by the magnifying powers of a telescope.

– Pennsylvania Journal
commentary on George Washington
  1. Washington

    by Annette Wynne

    First of our great, we bring
    New tributes to your name, and sing
    Songs of remembrance on your day;
    Years cannot ever wear away
    Our thanks to you, nor render less
    Our debt for your great worthiness.

  2. A Little Boy and a Cherry Tree

    by Annette Wynne

    A little boy and a cherry tree,
    A strong young man who proved to be
    A worker with his brain and hand,
    A soldier for his well-loved land,
    A statesman answering the call
    Of home and country, over all,
    A glorious patriot, noble son,
    A soldier—President—a man!
    Was Washington!

  3. On the Birthday of Washington

    by John Brainard

    " Hic cinis — ubique fama."

    Behold the mossed corner-stone dropped from the wall,
    And gaze on its date — but remember its fall,
    And hope that some hand may replace it;
    Think not of its pride when with pomp it was laid,
    But weep for the ruin its absence has made,
    And the lapse of the years that efface it.

    Mourn WASHINGTON'S death, when ye think of his birth,
    And far from your thoughts be the lightness of mirth,
    And far from your cheek be its smile.
    To-day he was born — 't was a loan — not a gift:
    The dust of his body is all that is left,
    To hallow his funeral pile.

    Flow gently, Potomac! thou washest away
    The sands where he trod, and the turf where he lay,
    When youth brushed his cheek with her wing;
    Breathe softly, ye wild winds, that circle around
    That dearest, and purest, and holiest ground,
    Ever pressed by the footprints of Spring.

    Each breeze be a sigh, and each dewdrop a tear,
    Each wave be a whispering monitor near,
    To remind the sad shore of his story;
    And darker, and softer, and sadder the gloom
    Of that evergreen mourner, that bends o'er the tomb
    Where WASHINGTON sleeps in his glory.

    Great GOD! when the spirit of freedom shall fail,
    And the sons of the Pilgrims, in sorrow, bewail
    Their religion and liberty gone;
    O! send back a form that shall stand as he stood,
    Unsubdued by the tempest, unmoved by the flood;
    And to THEE be the glory alone.

  4. The Rose-Tree at the Birthplace of Washington

    by Sarah J. Hale

    Bright rose! what dost thou here, amid
    These sad mementoes of the past?
    The crumbling stones thy roots have hid,
    The bramble's shade is o'er thee cast,
    Yet still thy glowing beauty seems
    Fair as young childhood's happy dreams.

    The sunbeam on the heaving surf
    Proclaims the tempest's rage is o'er;
    The violet, on the frozen turf,
    Breathes of the smiling spring once more;
    But, rose, thy mission to the heart,
    In things that alter, hath no part.

    The mossgrown ruins round are spread,
    Scarce rescued from earth's trodden mass,
    And time-scathed trees, whose branches dead
    Lie cumbering o'er the matted grass:
    These tell the tale of life's brief day,
    Hope, toil, enjoyment, death, decay!

    The common record this of man,
    We read, regret, and pass it by,
    And rear the towers that deck our span,
    Above the grave where nations lie;
    And heroes, who like meteors shone,
    Are, like that meteor's flashings, gone.

    But, radiant rose, thy beauty breaks
    Like eve's first star upon the sight;
    A holier hue the vision takes,
    The ruins shine with heaven's clear light;
    His name, who placed thy root in earth,
    Doth consecrate thy place of birth.

    Yet 'tis not here his wreath we twine,
    Nor here that Freedom's chief we praise;
    The stars at rising softer shine,
    Than when o'er night's dark vault they blaze
    Not here, with Washington's great name,
    Blend his achievements or his fame.

    But brighter, holier is the ray
    Which rests on this devoted ground;
    Here pass'd his childhood's happy day,
    Here glory's bud meet culture found:
    Maternal smiles, and tears, and prayer,
    These were its light, its dew, its air.

    Bright rose! for this thy flower hath sprung,
    The mother's steadfast love to show;
    Thy odour on the gale is flung,
    As pours that love its lavish flow:
    The mother's lot with hope to cheer,
    Type of her heart, thou bloomest here.

  5. Washington's Birthday

    "For Freedom outlives the old crowns of the earth,
    And Freedom shall triumph forever,
    And Time must long wait the true song of his birth
    Who sleeps by the beautiful river."

    – Hezekiah Butterworth
    Washington's Birthday
    by Hezekiah Butterworth

    The bells of Mount Vernon are ringing to-day,
    And what say their melodious numbers
    To the flag blooming air? List, what do they say?
    "The fame of the hero ne'er slumbers!"

    The world's monument stands the Potomac beside,
    And what says the shaft to the river?
    "When the hero has lived for his country, and died,
    Death crowns him a hero forever."

    The bards crown the heroes and children rehearse
    The songs that give heroes to story,
    And what say the bards to the children? "No verse
    Can yet measure Washington's glory.

    "For Freedom outlives the old crowns of the earth,
    And Freedom shall triumph forever,
    And Time must long wait the true song of his birth
    Who sleeps by the beautiful river."

  6. Washington's Ruse

    by John B. Tabb

    When Georgie would not go to bed,
    If some one asked him why,
    "What is the use?" he gravely said,
    "You know I cannot lie."

  7. Battle of Trenton

    Washington Crossing the Deleware
    Washington Crossing the Deleware
    by Emanuel Leutze
    by Anonymous

    On Christmas-day in seventy-six,
    Our ragged troops with bayonets fixed,
    For Trenton marched away.
    The Delaware see! the boats below!
    The light obscured by hail and snow!
    But no signs of dismay.

    Our object was the Hessian band,
    That dared invade fair freedom's land,
    And quarter in that place.
    Great Washington he led us on,
    Whose streaming flag, in storm or sun,
    Had never known disgrace.

    In silent march we passed the night,
    Each soldier panting for the fight,
    Though quite benumbed with frost.
    Greene on the left at six began,
    The right was led by Sullivan,
    Who ne'er a moment lost.

    Their pickets stormed, the alarm was spread,
    That rebels risen from the dead
    Were marching into town.
    Some scampered here, some scampered there,
    And some for action did prepare;
    But soon their arms laid down,

    Twelve hundred servile miscreants,
    With all their colors, guns, and tents,
    Were trophies of the day.
    The frolic o'er, the bright canteen
    In centre, front, and rear was seen
    Driving fatigue away.

    Now, brothers of the patriot bands,
    Let's sing deliverance from the hands
    Of arbitrary sway.
    And as our life is but a span,
    Let's touch the tankard while we can,
    In memory of that day.

  8. Across the Delaware

    by Will Carleton

    The winter night is cold and drear,
    Along the river's sullen flow;
    The cruel frost is camping here —
    The air has living blades of snow.
    Look! pushing from the icy strand,
    With ensigns freezing in the air,
    There sails a small but mighty band,
    Across the dang'rous Delaware.

    Oh, wherefore, soldiers, would you fight
    The bayonets of a winter storm?
    In truth it were a better night
    For blazing fire and blankets warm!
    We seek to trap a foreign foe,
    Who fill themselves with stolen fare;
    We carry freedom as we go
    Across the storm-swept Delaware!

    The night is full of lusty cheer
    Within the Hessians' merry camp;
    And faint and fainter on the ear
    Doth fall the heedless sentry's tramp.
    O hirelings, this new nation's rage
    Is something 't is not well to dare;
    You are not fitted to engage
    These men from o'er the Delaware!

    A rush — a shout — a clarion call,
    Salute the early morning's gray:
    Now, roused invaders, yield or fall:
    The refuge-land has won the day!
    Soon shall the glorious news be hurled
    Wherever men have wrongs to bear;
    For freedom's torch illumes the world,
    And God has crossed the Delaware!

  9. Valley Forge

    George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
    George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
    by John Ward Dunsmore
    by Thomas Buchanan Read

     Full Text

    O’er town and cottage, vale and height,
    Down came the Winter, fierce and white,
    And shuddering wildly, as distraught
    At horrors his own hand had wrought.

    His child, the young Year, newly born,
    Cheerless, cowering, and affrighted,
    Wailed with a shivering voice forlorn,
    As on a frozen heath benighted.
    In vain the hearths were set aglow,
    In vain the evening lamps were lighted,
    To cheer the dreary realm of snow:
    Old Winter’s brow would not be smoothed,
    Nor the young Year’s wailing soothed.

    How sad the wretch at morn or eve
    Compelled his starving home to leave,
    Who, plunged breast-deep from drift to drift,
    Toils slowly on from rift to rift,
    Still hearing in his aching ear
    The cry his fancy whispers near,
    Of little ones who weep for bread
    Within an ill-provided shed!

    But wilder, fiercer, sadder still,
    Freezing the tear it caused to start,
    Was the inevitable chill
    Which pierced a nation’s agued heart,—
    A nation with its naked breast
    Against the frozen barriers prest,
    Heaving its tedious way and slow
    Through shifting gulfs and drifts of woe,
    Where every blast that whistled by
    Was bitter with its children’s cry.

    Such was the winter’s awful sight
    For many a dreary day and night,
    What time our country’s hope forlorn,
    Of every needed comfort shorn,
    Lay housed within a hurried tent,
    Where every keen blast found a rent,
    And oft the snow was seen to sift
    Along the floor its piling drift,
    Or, mocking the scant blankets’ fold,
    Across the night-couch frequent rolled;
    Where every path by a soldier beat,
    Or every track where a sentinel stood,
    Still held the print of naked feet,
    And oft the crimson stains of blood;
    Where Famine held her spectral court,
    And joined by all her fierce allies:
    She ever loved a camp or fort
    Beleaguered by the wintry skies,—
    But chiefly when Disease is by,
    To sink the frame and dim the eye,
    Until, with seeking forehead bent,
    In martial garments cold and damp,
    Pale Death patrols from tent to tent,
    To count the charnels of the camp.

    Such was the winter that prevailed
    Within the crowded, frozen gorge;
    Such were the horrors that assailed
    The patriot band at Valley Forge.

    It was a midnight storm of woes
    To clear the sky for Freedom’s morn;
    And such must ever be the throes
    The hour when Liberty is born.

    The chieftain, by his evening lamp,
    Whose flame scarce cheered the hazy damp,
    Sat toiling o’er some giant plan,
    With maps and charts before him spread,
    Beholding in his warrior scan
    The paths which through the future led.

  10. Washington

    by Daniel Webster

    Ah! Washington, thou once didst guide the helm
    And point each danger to our infant realm;
    Didst show the gulf where factious tempests sweep,
    And the big thunders frolic o'er the deep;
    Through the red wave didst lead our bark, nor stood,
    Like ancient Moses, the other side the flood.
    But thou art gone,—yes, gone, and we deplore
    The man, the Washington, we knew before.
    But, when thy spirit mounted to the sky,
    And scarce beneath thee left a tearless eye,
    Tell what Elisha then thy mantle caught,
    Warmed with thy virtue, with thy wisdom fraught.
    Say, was it Adams? was it he who bare
    His country's toils, nor knew a separate care,
    Whose bosom heaved indignant as he saw
    Columbia groan beneath oppression's law,
    Who stood and spurned corruption at his feet,
    Firm as "the rock on which the storm shall beat?"
    Or was it he whose votaries now disclaim
    Thy godlike deeds and sully all thy fame?
    Spirit of Washington, oh! grant reply,
    And let thy country know thee from the sky.
    Break through the clouds, and be thine accents heard,
    Accents that oft 'mid war's rude onset cheered.
    Thy voice shall hush again our mad alarms,
    Lull monster faction with thy potent charms.
    And grant to whosoe'er ascends thy seat,
    Worth half like thine, and virtues half as great.

  11. Great Washington

    by Annette Wynne

    Great Washington,
    O, to be a worthy son
    To you, to hear the clarion call
    Of home and country over all,
    And to answer it like you,
    Standing firm and staunch and true,
    Head erect, and facing foe,
    Strong in weal and strong in woe,
    In my country's need;
    O, to be indeed
    A worthy son
    To you, great Washington!

  12. Washington's Birthday

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    No rockets flamed in sudden fire,
    No ringing gladness rocked the spire,
    No proud salute, o'er field and town,
    Was loud each lesser sound to drown,—
    When, on that morning long ago,
    A fair young mother, spent and low,
    Heard words so sweet: "God give you joy;
    The baby is a splendid boy!"

    Just words, as simple and as sweet
    As ever fall in soft repeat,
    Where, after weariness and strain,
    And speechless ecstasy of pain,
    In hall or hut, the mother waits,
    So close to death's unfolding gates,
    Till thrills her heart the solemn chord,
    The gift exultant from the Lord,
    And all her life o'erbrims with joy,—
    Her man-child born, her baby boy.

    The wide Virginia fields were green
    With tender wheat in springing sheen;
    O'er mountain slopes and valleys fair
    Hung violet mists in golden air;
    Coy sap was stirring in the trees,
    Faint fragrance fluttered through the breeze,
    And robin trills and bluebirds' notes
    Came shrilling forth from merry throats;
    While hushed and happy in her joy
    The mother looked upon her boy.

    She dreamed not then of fateful strands
    That yet should fill those tiny hands;
    Nor camp, nor foray, nor retreat,
    Nor flag, nor march, nor stormy beat
    Of forceful drum, was in her thought,
    Her mind with gentle pleasure fraught.
    Not hers to know that many an age
    Would reap a sacred heritage
    Because her child, her precious one,
    Should be his country's noblest son.
    No grand ambition marred the joy
    She poured upon her baby boy.

    To-day, from surf-washed shore to shore,
    The deep-lipped guns in triumph roar;
    The bells in stately music swing,
    The sweet-voiced children laugh and sing;
    From mast and fort the pennons fly,
    The silken banners stream on high,
    And homes and hearts are filled with mirth,
    Remembering that baby's birth.

    To-day, who gaze along the years,
    The finished time of toils and tears,
    That still in varying peace and strife
    Have gone to make the nation's life,—
    Who backward gaze must own the debt
    We owe our holiest memory yet;
    For all our best, bequeathed, begun,
    We needs must honor Washington,
    Still first among our good and great,
    The grandest name that stars the state.

  13. When Our Land Was New

    by Annette Wynne

    When our land was new
    And all untried
    It was you
    Who proved the guide—
    Proved her guide to lead her so
    She could live and grow.

    When our land was new
    And weak and small,
    It was you
    Who taught her all—
    For your vision clear as sun,
    Thank you, Washington!

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