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Poems About Heroes

Table of Contents

  1. Heroes by E. F. Hayward
  2. The Heroes of Our Day by Joseph Horatio Chant
  3. A Song of Heroes by Anonymous
  4. Brave Hearts by Charles Swain
  5. Home Heroism by Amos Russel Wells
  6. Men Wanted by E. F. Hayward
  7. Not They Who Soar by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  8. Horatius at the Bridge by Thomas B. Macaulay
  9. The Battle of Stirling by William Sinclair
  10. Arnold von Winkelried by James Montgomery
  11. Seventy-Six by William Cullen Bryant
  12. The Minute-Man by Dora B. Hunter
  13. Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  14. Lexington by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  15. Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  16. Nathan Hale by Francis Miles Finch
  17. A Hero of the Revolution by George Pope Morris
  18. The Angel of Marye's Heights by Walter A. Clark
  19. Robert Gould Shaw by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  20. Heroes of the "Titanic" by Henry Van Dyke
  21. The Heroic Dead by Alfred Noyes
  22. In the Tunnel by Bret Harte
  23. The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
  24. A Song for Heroes by Edwin Markham
  25. How Sleep the Brave by William Collins
  26. Molly Maguire at Monmouth by Anonymous
  27. The Swedish Wife by Henrietta Gould Rowe
  28. Joan D'Arc by James B. Kenyon
  29. The Brave at Home by Thomas Buchanan Read

  1. Heroes

    by E. F. Hayward

    The bravest heroes in the world, are those who fight alone;
    Heroically, they win or lose, nor let their names be known;
    They crave not the wreath of laurel, nor give thought to fame,
    Though they fight a losing battle, they are heroes just the same;
    Their hearts may break with sorrow, and their eyes be dim with tears,
    They weep alone in silence, so that no one overhears;
    The only help they ever call, is from their God above,—
    Their battles are within their hearts, between despair and love;
    Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, the World may never know,
    For should they win, you'd never hear a bugler's trumpet blow;
    And if they lose, they only smile in listless sort of way,
    And never tell the "World" about their silent bitter fray.

  2. The Heroes of Our Day

    by Joseph Horatio Chant

    Heroic deeds in every age
    Command the world’s esteem;
    Each finds a place in history’s page,
    ‘Midst gloom a glory beam.

    And we full oft revert to this,
    To show man’s true descent
    From Him who is the source of bliss,
    Tho’ now by passions rent.

    But we need not consult the past;
    The present bears this fruit:
    The hero race will ever last;
    The tree is sound at root.

    And never has the world excelled
    The present in this line;
    Our loving Lord has not withheld
    From us this trait divine.

    And we should not from them withhold
    The praise we feel is due
    For deeds of love, and actions bold,
    For spirit kind and true.

    Their worth we now should recognize,
    Not chant it o’er their graves;
    The hero of the past we prize,
    No less the man who braves

    The dangers of the present hour,
    The sneers which now are rife,
    Not for the sake of earthly power,
    Nor yet to save his life.

    But for the good of fellow man,
    And for his Master’s sake,
    He shuns no cross, and fears no ban;
    ‘Tis these a hero make.

  3. A Song of Heroes

    by Anonymous

    Our country calls for heroes,
    And who is a hero now
    With no fear in his eyes,
    With no shade of disguise,
    With a purpose upon his brow?

    The wide world calls for heroes,
    And who will a hero be.
    With a love for the whole
    And a clear, steady soul
    And a spirit brave and free?

    High heaven calls for heroes,
    And who is a hero there,
    With a will for the best,
    And a mind for the test,
    And a heart that knows to dare?

    But never mind the heroes,
    Nor herald the hero's worth:
    For our land we will die
    And for God on high,
    And for all the groaning earth!

  4. Brave Hearts

    Brave hearts bend not so soon to care—

    - Charles Swain
    Brave Hearts
    by Charles Swain

    Brave hearts bend not so soon to care—
    Firm minds uplift the load of fate;
    They bear what others shrink to bear,
    And boldly any doom await!
    They rise above what would oppress
    A weaker spirit to the ground;
    And, though they feel no jot the less,
    Their sorrows scorn to breathe a sound.

    Oh! heroes have we still on earth,
    Worth all the boasted blood of Rome;
    And heroines, whose suffering worth
    Lends grace to many a humble home.
    Great hearts endurance cannot bend;
    Nor daily care, nor trial, tame;
    But these nor ask, nor gain, a friend—
    Nor seek, nor ever find, a name!

  5. Home Heroism

    O ye who long for brilliant deeds
    Tied down to washing dishes,
    Scorn not the lowly household needs,—
    They are the Master's fishes.

    - Amos R. Wells
    Home Heroism
    by Amos Russel Wells. See John 21:1-8.

    That barren night in Galilee
    It found a fruitful morning,
    For Jesus stood beside the sea
    And drew the fishes swarming

    "The Lord!"—and Peter leaped to swim.
    (How very like him this is!)
    The others labored after him,
    Pulling the net with fishes.

    And both were fine and hoth were true,
    And both rejoiced the Master,—
    That frugal, plodding, faithful crew,
    The one that hurried faster.

    O ye who long for brilliant deeds
    Tied down to washing dishes,
    Scorn not the lowly household needs,—
    They are the Master's fishes.

    Act well your part, there all the honor lies.

    – Alexander Pope
  6. Men Wanted

    by E. F. Hayward

    We need the man of spine, today,
    To boldly take the floor;
    And without hesitation, say
    Things, which make rascals sore.

    The kind who never climbs a fence
    When issues are at stake;
    The man with good old common sense,—
    Whose brain is wide awake.

    The one who speaks just what he thinks,
    As only thinkers can;
    Not one who only sits and winks,
    For "policy's" his plan.

    Of such as he, there's not a few,
    Nor need for any more;
    Get off the fence, if this means you,
    A coward is a "bore."

    We need the man who has the nerve
    To choose what's right, then stick;
    The only kind that's fit to serve,
    Is one the thieves can't lick.

  7. Not They Who Soar

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Not they who soar, but they who plod
    Their rugged way, unhelped, to God
    Are heroes; they who higher fare,
    And, flying, fan the upper air,
    Miss all the toil that hugs the sod.
    'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod,
    Whose feet have pressed the path unshod,
    May smile upon defeated care,
    Not they who soar.
    High up there are no thorns to prod,
    Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod
    To turn the keenness of the share,
    For flight is ever free and rare;
    But heroes they the soil who've trod,
    Not they who soar!

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
    Be a hero in the strife!

    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    A Psalm of Life
  8. Horatius at the Bridge

    by Thomas B. Macaulay.

    Lars Porsena of Clusium,
    By the Nine Gods he swore
    That the great house of Tarquin
    Should suffer wrong no more.
    By the Nine Gods he swore it,
    And named a trysting-day,
    And bade his messengers ride forth,
    East and west and south and north,
    To summon his array.

    East and west and south and north
    The messengers ride fast,
    And tower and town and cottage
    Have heard the trumpet's blast.
    Shame on the false Etruscan
    Who lingers in his home
    When Porsena of Clusium
    Is on the march for Rome!

    The horsemen and the footmen
    Are pouring in amain,
    From many a stately market-place,
    From many a fruitful plain;
    From many a lonely hamlet,
    Which, hid by beech and pine,
    Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
    Of purple Apennine.

    The harvests of Arretium,
    This year, old men shall reap;
    This year, young boys in Umbro
    Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
    And in the vats of Luna,
    This year, the must shall foam
    Round the white feet of laughing girls
    Whose sires have marched to Rome.

    There be thirty chosen prophets,
    The wisest of the land,
    Who alway by Lars Porsena
    Both morn and evening stand:
    Evening and morn the Thirty
    Have turned the verses o'er,
    Traced from the right on linen white
    By mighty seers of yore.

    And with one voice the Thirty
    Have their glad answer given:
    "Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena;
    Go forth, beloved of Heaven;
    Go, and return in glory
    To Clusium's royal dome;
    And hang round Nurscia's altarsv The golden shields of Rome."

    And now hath every city
    Sent up her tale of men;
    The foot are fourscore thousand,
    The horse are thousands ten.
    Before the gates of Sutrium
    Is met the great array.
    A proud man was Lars Porsena
    Upon the trysting-day.

    For all the Etruscan armies
    Were ranged beneath his eye,
    And many a banished Roman,
    And many a stout ally;
    And with a mighty following
    To join the muster came
    The Tusculan Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name.

    But by the yellow Tiber
    Was tumult and affright:
    From all the spacious champaign
    To Rome men took their flight.
    A mile around the city,
    The throng stopped up the ways;
    A fearful sight it was to see
    Through two long nights and days.

    Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
    Could the wan burghers spy
    The line of blazing villages
    Red in the midnight sky.
    The Fathers of the City,
    They sat all night and day,
    For every hour some horseman came
    With tidings of dismay.

    To eastward and to westward
    Have spread the Tuscan bands;
    Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecot,
    In Crustumerium stands.
    Verbenna down to Ostia
    Hath wasted all the plain;
    Astur hath stormed Janiculum,
    And the stout guards are slain.

    I wis, in all the Senate,
    There was no heart so bold,
    But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
    When that ill news was told.
    Forthwith up rose the Consul,
    Up rose the Fathers all;
    In haste they girded up their gowns,
    And hied them to the wall.

    They held a council standing
    Before the River Gate;
    Short time was there, ye well may guess,
    For musing or debate.
    Out spoke the Consul roundly:
    "The bridge must straight go down;
    For, since Janiculum is lost,
    Naught else can save the town."

    Just then a scout came flying,
    All wild with haste and fear:
    "To arms! to arms! Sir Consul;
    Lars Porsena is here."
    On the low hills to westward
    The Consul fixed his eye,
    And saw the swarthy storm of dust
    Rise fast along the sky.

    And nearer, fast, and nearer
    Doth the red whirlwind come;
    And louder still, and still more loud,
    From underneath that rolling cloud,
    Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
    The trampling and the hum.
    And plainly and more plainly
    Now through the gloom appears,
    Far to left and far to right,
    In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
    The long array of helmets bright,
    The long array of spears.

    And plainly and more plainly,
    Above the glimmering line,
    Now might ye see the banners
    Of twelve fair cities shine;
    But the banner of proud Clusium
    Was the highest of them all,
    The terror of the Umbrian,
    The terror of the Gaul.

    Fast by the royal standard,
    O'erlooking all the war,
    Lars Porsena of Clusium
    Sat in his ivory car.
    By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name,
    And by the left false Sextus,
    That wrought the deed of shame.

    But when the face of Sextus
    Was seen among the foes,
    A yell that rent the firmament
    From all the town arose.
    On the house-tops was no woman
    But spat toward him and hissed,
    No child but screamed out curses,
    And shook its little fist.

    But the Consul's brow was sad,
    And the Consul's speech was low,
    And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe.
    "Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
    And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?"

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    "To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late;
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods.

    "And for the tender mother
    Who dandled him to rest,
    And for the wife who nurses
    His baby at her breast,
    And for the holy maidens
    Who feed the eternal flame,
    To save them from false Sextus
    That wrought the deed of shame?

    "Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
    With all the speed ye may;
    I, with two more to help me,
    Will hold the foe in play.
    In yon straight path a thousand
    May well be stopped by three.
    Now who will stand on either hand,
    And keep the bridge with me?"

    Then out spake Spurius Lartius—
    A Ramnian proud was he—
    I will stand at thy right hand,
    And keep the bridge with thee."
    And out spake strong Herminius—
    Of Titian blood was he—
    "I will abide on thy left side,
    And keep the bridge with thee."

    "Horatius," quoth the Consul,
    "As thou say'st, so let it be,"
    And straight against that great array
    Forth went the dauntless Three.
    For Romans in Rome's quarrel
    Spared neither land nor gold,
    Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
    In the brave days of old.

    Now while the Three were tightening
    Their harness on their backs,
    The Consul was the foremost man
    To take in hand an ax;
    And Fathers mixed with Commons
    Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
    And smote upon the planks above,
    And loosed the props below.
    Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
    Right glorious to behold,
    Came flashing back the noonday light,
    Rank behind rank, like surges bright
    Of a broad sea of gold.

    Four hundred trumpets sounded
    A peal of warlike glee,
    As that great host, with measured tread,
    And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
    Rolled slowly toward the bridge's head,
    Where stood the dauntless Three.

    The Three stood calm and silent,
    And looked upon the foes,
    And a great shout of laughter
    From all the vanguard rose:
    And forth three chiefs came spurring
    Before that deep array;
    To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
    And lifted high their shields, and flew
    To win the narrow way;

    Aunus from green Tifernum,
    Lord of the Hill of Vines;
    And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
    Sicken in Ilva's mines;
    And Picus, long to Clusium
    Vassal in peace and war,
    Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
    From that gray crag where, girt with towers,
    The fortress of Nequinum lowers
    O'er the pale waves of Nar.

    Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
    Into the stream beneath;
    Herminius struck at Seius,
    And clove him to the teeth;
    At Picus brave Horatius
    Darted one fiery thrust;
    And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
    Clashed in the bloody dust.

    Then Ocnus of Falerii
    Rushed on the Roman Three;
    And Lausulus of Urgo,
    The rover of the sea;
    And Aruns of Volsinium,
    Who slew the great wild boar,
    The great wild boar that had his den
    Amid the reeds of Cosa's fen.
    And wasted fields and slaughtered men
    Along Albinia's shore.

    Herminius smote down Aruns;
    Lartius laid Ocnus low;
    Right to the heart of Lausulus
    Horatius sent a blow.
    "Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate!
    No more, aghast and pale,
    From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
    The tracks of thy destroying bark,
    No more Campania's hinds shall fly
    To woods and caverns when they spy
    Thy thrice accurséd sail."

    But now no sound of laughter
    Was heard among the foes.
    A wild and wrathful clamour
    From all the vanguard rose.
    Six spears' length from the entrance
    Halted that deep array,
    And for a space no man came forth
    To win the narrow way.

    But hark! the cry is Astur:
    And lo! the ranks divide;
    And the great Lord of Luna
    Comes with his stately stride.
    Upon his ample shoulders
    Clangs loud the fourfold shield,
    And in his hand he shakes the brand
    Which none but he can wield.

    He smiled on those bold Romans,
    A smile serene and high;
    He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
    And scorn was in his eye.
    Quoth he: "The she-wolf's litter
    Stand savagely at bay;
    But will ye dare to follow,
    If Astur clears the way?"

    Then, whirling up his broadsword
    With both hands to the height,
    He rushed against Horatius,
    And smote with all his might.
    With shield and blade Horatius
    Right deftly turned the blow.
    The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
    It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
    The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
    To see the red blood flow.

    He reeled, and on Herminius
    He leaned one breathing space;
    Then, like a wildcat mad with wounds,
    Sprang right at Astur's face.
    Through teeth, and skull, and helmet,
    So fierce a thrust he sped,
    The good sword stood a handbreadth out
    Behind the Tuscan's head.

    And the great Lord of Luna
    Fell at the deadly stroke,
    As falls on Mount Alvernus
    A thunder-smitten oak.
    Far o'er the crashing forest
    The giant arms lie spread;
    And the pale augurs, muttering low,
    Gaze on the blasted head.

    On Astur's throat Horatius
    Right firmly pressed his heel,
    And thrice and four times tugged amain
    Ere he wrenched out the steel.
    "And see," he cried, "the welcome,
    Fair guests, that waits you here!
    What noble Lucumo comes next
    To taste our Roman cheer?"

    But at his haughty challenge
    A sullen murmur ran,
    Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,
    Along that glittering van.
    There lacked not men of prowess,
    Nor men of lordly race;
    For all Etruria's noblest
    Were round the fatal place.

    But all Etruria's noblest
    Felt their hearts sink to see
    On the earth the bloody corpses,
    In the path the dauntless Three:
    And, from the ghastly entrance
    Where those bold Romans stood,
    All shrank, like boys who unaware,
    Ranging the woods to start a hare,
    Come to the mouth of the dark lair
    Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
    Lies amid bones and blood.

    Was none who would be foremost
    To lead such dire attack?
    But those behind cried "Forward!"
    And those before cried "Back!"
    And backward now and forward
    Wavers the deep array;
    And on the tossing sea of steel
    To and fro the standards reel;
    And the victorious trumpet peal
    Dies fitfully away.

    Yet one man for one moment Strode out before the crowd;
    Well known was he to all the Three, And they gave him greeting loud:
    "Now welcome, welcome, Sextus! Now welcome to thy home!
    Why dost thou stay, and turn away? Here lies the road to Rome."

    Thrice looked he at the city;
    Thrice looked he at the dead;
    And thrice came on in fury,
    And thrice turned back in dread:
    And, white with fear and hatred,
    Scowled at the narrow way
    Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
    The bravest Tuscans lay.

    But meanwhile ax and lever
    Have manfully been plied,
    And now the bridge hangs tottering
    Above the boiling tide.
    "Come back, come back, Horatius!"
    Loud cried the Fathers all.
    "Back, Lartius! Back, Herminius!
    Back, ere the ruin fall!"

    Back darted Spurius Lartius;
    Herminius darted back:
    And, as they passed, beneath their feet
    They felt the timbers crack.
    But when they turned their faces,
    And on the farther shore
    Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
    They would have crossed once more.

    But with a crash like thunder
    Fell every loosened beam,
    And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
    Lay right athwart the stream;
    And a long shout of triumph
    Rose from the walls of Rome,
    As to the highest turret tops
    Was splashed the yellow foam.

    And, like a horse unbroken
    When first he feels the rein,
    The furious river struggled hard,
    And tossed his tawny mane;
    And burst the curb, and bounded,
    Rejoicing to be free,
    And whirling down, in fierce career,
    Battlement, and plank, and pier,
    Rushed headlong to the sea.

    Alone stood brave Horatius,
    But constant still in mind;
    Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
    And the broad flood behind.
    "Down with him!" cried false Sextus,
    With a smile on his pale face.
    "Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,
    "Now yield thee to our grace."

    Round turned he, as not deigning
    Those craven ranks to see;
    Naught spake he to Lars Porsena,
    To Sextus naught spake he;
    But he saw on Palatinus
    The white porch of his home;
    And he spake to the noble river
    That rolls by the towers of Rome:

    "O Tiber! Father Tiber!
    To whom the Romans pray,
    A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
    Take thou in charge this day!"
    So he spake, and speaking sheathed
    The good sword by his side,
    And, with his harness on his back,
    Plunged headlong in the tide.

    No sound of joy or sorrow
    Was heard from either bank;
    But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
    With parted lips and straining eyes,
    Stood gazing where he sank;
    And when above the surges
    They saw his crest appear,
    All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
    And even the ranks of Tuscany
    Could scarce forbear to cheer.

    And fiercely ran the current,
    Swollen high by months of rain;
    And fast his blood was flowing,
    And he was sore in pain,
    And heavy with his armour,
    And spent with changing blows:
    And oft they thought him sinking,
    But still again he rose.

    Never, I ween, did swimmer,
    In such an evil case,
    Struggle through such a raging flood
    Safe to the landing place;
    But his limbs were borne up bravely
    By the brave heart within,
    And our good Father Tiber
    Bore bravely up his chin.

    "Curse on him!" quoth false Sextus;
    "Will not the villain drown?
    But for this stay, ere close of day
    We should have sacked the town!"
    "Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena,
    "And bring him safe to shore;
    For such a gallant feat of arms
    Was never seen before."

    And now he feels the bottom;
    Now on dry earth he stands;
    Now round him throng the Fathers
    To press his gory hands;
    And now with shouts and clapping,
    And noise of weeping loud,
    He enters through the River Gate,
    Borne by the joyous crowd.

    They gave him of the corn land,
    That was of public right.
    As much as two strong oxen
    Could plow from morn till night:
    And they made a molten image,
    And set it up on high,
    And there it stands unto this day
    To witness if I lie.

    It stands in the Comitium,
    Plain for all folk to see,—
    Horatius in his harness,
    Halting upon one knee:
    And underneath is written,
    In letters all of gold,
    How valiantly he kept the bridge
    In the brave days of old.

    And still his name sounds stirring
    Unto the men of Rome,
    As the trumpet blast that cries to them
    To charge the Volscian home;
    And wives still pray to Juno
    For boys with hearts as bold
    As his who kept the bridge so well
    In the brave days of old.

    And in the nights of winter,
    When the cold north winds blow,
    And the long howling of the wolves
    Is heard amid the snow;
    When round the lonely cottage
    Roars loud the tempest's din,
    And the good logs of Algidus
    Roar louder yet within;

    When the oldest cask is opened,
    And the largest lamp is lit;
    When the chestnuts glow in the embers,
    And the kid turns on the spit;
    When young and old in circle
    Around the firebrands close;
    When the girls are weaving baskets,
    And the lads are shaping bows;

    When the goodman mends his armour,
    And trims his helmet's plume;
    When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
    Goes flashing through the loom,—
    With weeping and with laughter
    Still is the story told,
    How well Horatius kept the bridge
    In the brave days of old.

  9. The Battle of Stirling

    by William Sinclair

    To Scotland’s ancient realm
    Believe it from me,
    Proud Edward’s armies came,
    To sap our freedom, and o’erwhelm
    Our martial force in shame.
    “It shall not be!” brave Wallace cried:
    “It shall not be!” his chiefs replied;
    “By the name our fathers gave her,
    Our steel shall drink the crimson stream,
    We’ll all her dearest rights redeem,—
    Our own broadswords shall save her!”

    With hopes of triumph flushed,
    The squadrons hurried o’er
    Thy bridge, Kildean, and heaving rushed
    Like wild waves to the shore.
    “They come—they come!” was the gallant cry:
    “They come—they come!” was the loud reply;
    “O strength, thou gracious Giver!
    By Love and Freedom’s stainless faith,
    We’ll dare the darkest night of death,—
    We ’ll drive them back forever!”

    All o’er the waving broom,
    In chivalry and grace,
    Shone England’s radiant spear and plume,
    By Stirling’s rocky base:
    And, stretching far beneath the view,
    Proud Cressingham! thy banners flew,
    When, like a torrent rushing,
    O God! from right and left the flame
    Of Scottish swords like lightning came,
    Great Edward’s legions crushing!

    High praise, ye gallant band,
    Who, in the face of day,
    With a daring heart and a fearless hand,
    Have cast your chains away!
    The foemen fell on every side,—
    In crimson hues the Forth was dyed,—
    Bedewed with blood the heather;
    While cries triumphal shook the air,—
    “Thus shall they do, thus shall they dare,
    Wherever Scotsmen gather!”

    Though years like shadows fleet
    O’er the dial-stone of Time,
    Thy pulse, O Freedom! still shall beat
    With the throb of manhood’s prime!
    Still shall the valor, love, and truth,
    That shone on Scotland’s early youth,
    From Scotland ne’er dissever;
    The Shamrock, Rose, and Thistle stern
    Shall wave around her Wallace cairn,
    And bless the brave forever!

  10. Arnold von Winkelried

    Winkelried at Sempach
    Winkelried at Sempach
    by Konrad Grob
    by James Montgomery

    "Make way for liberty!" he cried,
    Make way for liberty, and died.
    In arms the Austrian phalanx stood,
    A living wall, a human wood,—
    A wall, where every conscious stone
    Seemed to its kindred thousands grown.
    A rampart all assaults to bear,
    Till time to dust their frames should wear;
    So still, so dense the Austrians stood,
    A living wall, a human wood.

    Impregnable their front appears,
    All horrent with projected spears.
    Whose polished points before them shine,
    From flank to flank, one brilliant line,
    Bright as the breakers' splendours run
    Along the billows to the sun.

    Opposed to these a hovering band
    Contended for their fatherland;
    Peasants, whose new-found strength had broke
    From manly necks the ignoble yoke,
    And beat their fetters into swords,
    On equal terms to fight their lords;
    And what insurgent rage had gained,
    In many a mortal fray maintained;
    Marshalled, once more, at Freedom's call,
    They came to conquer or to fall,
    Where he who conquered, he who fell,
    Was deemed a dead or living Tell,
    Such virtue had that patriot breathed,
    So to the soil his soul bequeathed,
    That wheresoe'er his arrows flew,
    Heroes in his own likeness grew,
    And warriors sprang from every sod,
    Which his awakening footstep trod.

    And now the work of life and death
    Hung on the passing of a breath;
    The fire of conflict burned within,
    The battle trembled to begin;
    Yet, while the Austrians held their ground,
    Point for attack was nowhere found;
    Where'er the impatient Switzers gazed,
    The unbroken line of lances blazed;
    That line 'twere suicide to meet,
    And perish at their tyrant's feet;
    How could they rest within their graves,
    And leave their homes, the homes of slaves!
    Would not they feel their children tread,
    With clanging chains, above their head?

    It must not be; this day, this hour,
    Annihilates the invader's power;
    All Switzerland is in the field;
    She will not fly,—she cannot yield,—
    She must not fall; her better fate
    Here gives her an immortal date.
    Few were the numbers she could boast,
    But every freeman was a host,
    And felt as 'twere a secret known
    That one should turn the scale alone,
    While each unto himself was he
    On whose sole arm hung victory.

    It did depend on one indeed;
    Behold him,—Arnold Winkelried;
    There sounds not to the trump of fame
    The echo of a nobler name.
    Unmarked he stood amid the throng,
    In rumination deep and long,
    Till you might see, with sudden grace,
    The very thought come o'er his face;
    And, by the motion of his form,
    Anticipate the bursting storm,
    And, by the uplifting of his brow,
    Tell where the bolt would strike, and how.

    But 'twas no sooner thought than done!
    The field was in a moment won;
    "Make way for liberty!" he cried,
    Then ran, with arms extended wide,
    As if his dearest friend to clasp;
    Ten spears he swept within his grasp.
    "Make way for liberty!" he cried.
    Their keen points crossed from side to side;
    He bowed amidst them like a tree,
    And thus made way for liberty.

    Swift to the breach his comrades fly,
    "Make way for liberty!" they cry,
    And through the Austrian phalanx dart,
    As rushed the spears through Arnold's heart.
    While instantaneous as his fall,
    Rout, ruin, panic, seized them all;
    An earthquake could not overthrow
    A city with a surer blow.

    Thus Switzerland again was free;
    Thus Death made way for Liberty!

  11. Seventy-Six

    by William Cullen Bryant

     Full Text

    What heroes from the woodland sprung,
    When, through the fresh awakened land,
    The thrilling cry of freedom rung,
    And to the work of warfare strung
    The yeoman's iron hand!

    Hills flung the cry to hills around,
    And ocean-mart replied to mart,
    And streams, whose springs were yet unfound
    Pealed far away the starling sound
    Into the forest's heart.

    Then marched the brave from rocky steep,
    From mountain river swift and cold;
    The borders of the stormy deep,
    The vales where gathered waters sleep,
    Sent up the strong and bold.

    As if the very earth again
    Grew quick with God's creating breath
    And, from the sods of grove and glen,
    Rose ranks of lion-hearted men
    To battle to the death.

    The wife, whose babe first smiled that day
    The fair fond bride of yestereve,
    And aged sire and matron gray,
    Saw the loved warriors haste away,
    And deemed it sin to grieve.

    Already had the strife begun;
    Already blood on Concord's plain
    Along the springing grass had run,
    And blood had flowed at Lexington,
    Like brooks of April rain.

    That death-stain on the vernal sward
    Hallowed to freedom all the shore;
    In fragments fell the yoke abhorred—
    The footstep of a foreign lord
    Profaned the soil no more.

  12. The Minute-Man

    by Dora B. Hunter

    With his eager, resolute eyes aglow,
    Alert for a glimpse of the nearing foe,
    With his sturdy shoulder backward thrown,
    Facing odds that he dare not own,
    Ready to start at the country's call,
    To win if God will—if He will, to fall,
    Whatever may cost the impending strife,
    Home or fortune or limb or life—
    Ready to give what the hour demands,
    The hero of Concord's story stands.

    Just as they stood on that April morn
    When American liberty there was born;
    Plows beside them, but arms in hand—
    They, the Middlesex farmer-band.
    Who dared to dream that these scattered groups
    Could rout the orderly British troops?
    That these farmer youth half-armed, untrained,
    Could keep the fame of their State unstained?
    But when His Majesty's soldiers came
    To the spot now wearing so proud a name,
    The minute-men marched down from the ridge
    And won the day at the old North Bridge.

    Concord river in quiet flows
    Past the spot where the English dead repose,
    And one hundred years has that night's renown
    Been the heritage of the peaceful town.
    Along the stream the historic sod
    Is bright with daisies and golden-rod,
    With never a hint of the bloody fight
    That was won by the Concord yeomen's might.

    But the minute-man is standing now
    In his valor's strength, beside his plow,
    On the spot where he fought at his country's call
    A grateful people's memorial.
    Does any one ask his rank or worth,
    His fortune, family, name or birth?
    This was a lad whose brave right arm,
    Raised in the moment of dire alarm,
    When first the sound of the foeman's gun
    Resounded through Concord and Lexington,
    Ne'er fell to his side till in dawn's gray light
    The patriot farmers had won the fight.
    But his name—his name—do you ask again?
    He was one of the famous minute-men!

  13. Paul Revere's Ride

    Paul Revere's Midnight Ride
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Paul Revere's heroic actions in the cause of American freedom were immortalized in this poem which recounts the story Paul Revere's midnight ride of April 18-19, 1775 to warn the Massachusetts countryside of the coming British invasion.

     Full Text

    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."

    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 around 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.

    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.

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

    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 he 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.

    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, a 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.
    He has left the village and mounted the steep,
    And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
    Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
    And under the alders that skirt its edge,
    Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
    Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

    It was twelve by the village clock
    When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
    He heard the crowing of the cock,
    And the barking of the farmer's dog,
    And felt the damp of the river fog,
    That rises after the sun goes down.

    It was one by the village clock,
    When he galloped into Lexington.
    He saw the gilded weathercock
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
    And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
    Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
    As if they already stood aghast
    At the bloody work they would look upon.

    It was two by the village clock,
    When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
    He heard the bleating of the flock,
    And the twitter of birds among the trees,
    And felt the breath of the morning breeze
    Blowing over the meadow brown.
    And one was safe and asleep in his bed
    Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
    Who that day would be lying dead,
    Pierced by a British musket ball.

    You know the rest. In the books you have read
    How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
    How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
    From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
    Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
    Then crossing the fields to emerge again
    Under the trees at the turn of the road,
    And only pausing to fire and load.

    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 for evermore!
    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.

    More information at "The Paul Revere House"

    The eyes of all America are upon us. As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.

    – Henry Knox, officer of the Continental Army
    written after the Declaration of Independence in 1776

  14. Lexington

    by Oliver Wendell Holmes

     Full Text

    Slowly the mist o'er the meadow was creeping,
    Bright on the dewy buds glistened the sun,
    When from his couch, while his children were sleeping,
    Rose the bold rebel and shouldered his gun.
    Waving her golden veil
    Over the silent dale,
    Blithe looked the morning on cottage and spire;
    Hushed was his parting sigh,
    While from his noble eye
    Flashed the last sparkle of liberty's fire.

    On the smooth green where the fresh leaf is springing
    Calmly the first-born of glory have met;
    Hark! the death-volley around them is ringing!
    Look! with their life-blood the young grass is wet!
    Faint is the feeble breath,
    Murmuring low in death,
    "Tell to our sons how their fathers have died";
    Nerveless the iron hand,
    Raised for its native land,
    Lies by the weapon that gleams at its side.

    Over the hillsides the wild knell is tolling,
    From their far hamlets the yeomanry come;
    As through the storm-clouds the thunder-burst rolling,
    Circles the beat of the mustering drum.
    Fast on the soldier's path
    Darken the waves of wrath,
    Long have they gathered and loud shall they fall;
    Red glares the musket's flash,
    Sharp rings the rifle's crash,
    Blazing and clanging from thicket and wall.

    Gayly the plume of the horseman was dancing,
    Never to shadow his cold brow again;
    Proudly at morning the war-steed was prancing,
    Reeking and panting be droops on the rein;
    Pale is the lip of scorn,
    Voiceless the trumpet horn,
    Torn is the silken-fringed red cross on high;
    Many a belted breast
    Low on the turf shall rest,
    Ere the dark hunters the herd have passed by.

    Snow-girdled crags where the hoarse wind is raving,
    Rocks where the weary floods murmur and wail,
    Wilds where the fern by the furrow is waving,
    Reeled with the echoes that rode on the gale;
    Far as the tempest thrills
    Over the darkened hills,
    Far as the sunshine streams over the plain,
    Roused by the tyrant band,
    Woke all the mighty land,
    Girded for battle, from mountain to main.

    Green be the graves where her martyrs are lying!
    Shroudless and tombless they sunk to their rest,—
    While o'er their ashes the starry fold flying
    Wraps the proud eagle they roused from his nest.
    Borne on her Northern pine,
    Long o'er the foaming brine
    Spread her broad banner to storm and to sun;
    Heaven keep her ever free
    Wide as o'er land and sea
    Floats the fair emblem her heroes have won!

  15. Concord Hymn

    The Shot Heard 'Round the World
    The Shot Heard 'Round the World
    by Domenick D'Andrea
    for the National Guard Heritage Series
    by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837

     Full Text

    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 today 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, and leave their children free,
    Bid Time and Nature gently spare
    The shaft we raise to them and thee.

  16. Nathan Hale

    by Francis Miles Finch

     Full Text

    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.

    “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

    – Nathan Hale
    Hale's famous last words before before being hanged by the British.
  17. A Hero of the Revolution

    by George Pope Morris

     Full Text

    Let not a tear be shed!
    Of grief give not a token,
    Although the silver thread
    And golden bowl be broken!
    A warrior lived—a Christian died!
    Sorrow's forgotten in our pride!

    Go, bring his battle-blade,
    His helmet and his plume!
    And be his trophies laid
    Beside him in the tomb,
    Where files of time-marked veterans come
    With martial tramp and muffled drum!

    Give to the earth his frame,
    To moulder and decay;
    But not his deathless name—
    That can not pass away!
    In youth, in manhood, and in age,
    He dignified his country's page!

    Green be the willow-bough
    Above the swelling mound,
    Where sleeps the hero now
    In consecrated ground:
    Thy epitaph, O Delavan!
    God's noblest work—an honest man!

  18. The Angel of Marye's Heights

    by Walter A. Clark

    A sunken road and a wall of stone
    And Cobb's grim line of grey
    Lay still at the base of Marye's hill
    On the morn of a winter's day.

    And crowning the frowning crest above
    Sleep Alexander's guns,
    While gleaming fair in the sunlit air
    The Rappahannock runs.

    On the plains below, the blue lines glow,
    And the bugle rings out clear,
    As with bated breath they march to death
    And a soldier's honored bier.

    For the slumbering guns awake to life
    And the screaming shell and ball
    From the front and flanks crash through the ranks
    And leave them where they fall.

    And the grey stone wall is ringed with fire
    And the pitiless leaden hail
    Drives back the foe to the plains below,
    Shattered and crippled and frail.

    Again and again a new line forms
    And the gallant charge is made,
    And again and again they fall like grain
    In the sweep of the reaper's blade.

    And then from out of the battle smoke,
    There falls on the lead swept air,
    From the whitening lips that are ready to die
    The piteous moan and the plaintive cry
    For "Water" everywhere.

    And into the presence of Kershaw brave,
    There comes a fair faced lad,
    With quivering lips, as his cap he tips,
    "I can't stand this," he said.

    "Stand what?" the general sternly said,
    As he looked on the field of slaughter;
    "To see those poor boys dying out there,
    With no one to help them, no one to care
    And crying for 'Water! Water!'

    "If you'll let me go, I'll give them some."
    "Why, boy, you're simply mad;
    They'll kill you as soon as you scale the wall
    In this terrible storm of shell and ball,"
    The general kindly said.

    "Please let me go," the lad replied.
    "May the Lord protect you, then,"
    And over the wall in the hissing air,
    He carried comfort to grim despair,
    And balm to the stricken men.

    And as he straightened the mangled limbs
    On their earthen bed of pain,
    The whitening lips all eagerly quaffed
    From the canteen's mouth the cooling draught
    And blessed him again and again.

    Like Daniel of old in the lions' den,
    He walked through the murderous air,
    With never a breath of the leaden storm
    To touch or to tear his grey clad form,
    For the hand of God was there.

    And I am sure in the Book of Gold,
    Where the blessèd Angel writes
    The names that are blest of God and men,
    He wrote that day with his shining pen,
    Then smiled and lovingly wrote again
    "The Angel of Marye's Heights."

  19. Robert Gould Shaw

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Why was it that the thunder voice of Fate
    Should call thee, studious, from the classic groves,
    Where calm-eyed Pallas with still footsteps roves,
    And charge thee seek the turmoil of the State?
    What bade thee hear the voice and rise elate,
    Leave home and kindred and thy spicy loaves,
    To lead th' unlettered and despised droves
    To manhood's home and thunder at the gate?

    Far better the slow blaze of Learning's light,
    The cool and quiet of her dearer fane,
    Than this hot terror of a hopeless fight,
    This cold endurance of the final pain,—
    Since thou and those who with thee died for right
    Have died, the Present teaches, but in vain!

    “There they march, warm-blooded champions of a better day for man. There on horseback among them, in his very habit as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune, upon whose happy youth every divinity had smiled”

    – William James
    Excerpt from the oration at the unveiling of the Shaw Monument.
  20. Heroes of the "Titanic"

    by Henry van Dyke

    Honour the brave who sleep
    Where the lost "Titanic" lies,
    The men who knew what a man must do
    When he looks Death in the eyes.

    "Women and children first,"—
    Ah strong and tender cry!
    The sons whom women had borne and nursed,
    Remembered,—and dared to die.

    The boats crept off in the dark:
    The great ship groaned: and then,—
    O stars of the night, who saw that sight,
    Bear witness, These were men!

  21. The Heroic Dead

    by Alfred Noyes

    (On the loss of the Titanic)

    If in the noon they doubted, in the night
    They never swerved. Death had no power to appal.
    There was one Way, one Truth, one Life, one Light,
    One Love that shone triumphant over all.

    If in the noon they doubted, at the last
    There was no Way to part, no Way but One
    That rolled the waves of Nature back and cast
    In ancient days a shadow across the sun.

    If in the noon they doubted, their last breath
    Saluted once again the eternal goal,
    Chanted a love-song in the face of Death
    And rent the veil of darkness from the soul.

    If in the noon they doubted, in the night
    They waved the shadowy world of strife aside,
    Flooded high heaven with an immortal light,
    And taught the deep how its Creator died.

  22. In the Tunnel

    by Bret Harte

    Didn't know Flynn,—
    Flynn of Virginia,—
    Long as he's been 'yar?
    Look 'ee here, stranger,
    Whar hev you been?

    Here in this tunnel
    He was my pardner,
    That same Tom Flynn,—
    Working together,
    In wind and weather,
    Day out and in.

    Didn't know Flynn! Well, that is queer;
    Why, it's a sin
    To think of Tom Flynn,—
    Tom with his cheer,
    Tom without fear,— Stranger, look 'yar!

    Thar in the drift, Back to the wall,
    He held the timbers
    Ready to fall;
    Then in the darkness
    I heard him call:
    "Run for your life, Jake!
    Run for your wife's sake!
    Don't wait for me."
    And that was all
    Heard in the din,
    Heard of Tom Flynn,—
    Flynn of Virginia.

    That's all about
    Flynn of Virginia.
    That lets me out.
    Here in the damp,—
    Out of the sun,—
    That 'ar derned lamp
    Makes my eyes run.
    Well, there,—I'm done!

    But, sir, when you'll
    Hear the next fool
    Asking of Flynn,—
    Flynn of Virginia,—
    Just you chip in,
    Say you knew Flynn;
    Say that you've been 'yar.

  23. The Soldier

    by Rupert Brooke. Rupert Brooke, a brilliant, impassioned young Englishman, was one of the first to take arms when Great Britain went to war. He died in the Dardanelles expedition, April 23, 1915. A few days before, he had sent from the Aegean Sea to the English-speaking peoples the poem by which he is best known:

    If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there’s some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
    A body of England’s, breathing English air,
    Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

    And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
    Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

  24. A Song for Heroes

    by E. F. Hayward


    A song for the heroes who saw the sign
    And took their place in the battle-line.
    They were walls of granite and gates of brass,
    These heroes that cried, "They shall not pass."
    And they hurled them back in a storm of cheers,
    And the sound will echo on over the years.

    And a song for the end, for the glorious end,
    And the soldiers marching up over the bend
    Of the broken roads in gallant France—
    The homing heroes who took the chance,
    Who looked on life, and with even breath
    Faced the winds from the gulfs of death.
    Their hearts are running on over the graves—
    Over the battle-wrecks—over the waves—
    Over the scarred fields—over the foam—
    On to America—on to home.


    And a song for the others, the heroes slain
    In Argonne Forest—in Saint-Gobain—
    In the flowery meadows of Picardy—
    In Belgium—in Italy—
    From brave Montello to the sea.
    A song for the heroes gone on ahead
    To join the hosts of the marching dead—
    A song for the souls that could lightly fling
    Sweet life away as a little thing
    For the sake of the mighty need of earth,
    The need of the ages coming to birth.

    All praise for the daring God who gave
    Heroic souls that could dare the grave—
    Praise for the power He laid on youth
    To challenge disaster and die for truth.
    What greater gift can the High God give,
    Than the power to die that the truth may live?
    Glory to the Lord, the Hero of Heaven,
    He whose wounds in his side are seven—
    Glory that He gathers the heroes home,
    Out of the red fields, out of the foam—
    Gathers them out of the Everywhere,
    Into the Camp that is Over There!

  25. How Sleep the Brave

    by William Collins

    How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
    By all their country's wishes blest!
    When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
    Returns to deck their hallow'd mould,
    She there shall dress a sweeter sod
    Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.

    By fairy hands their knell is rung;
    By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
    There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey,
    To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
    And Freedom shall awhile repair
    To dwell, a weeping hermit, there!

  26. Molly Maguire at Monmouth

    Molly "Pitcher" Maguire at Monmouth
    Molly Pitcher
    by George Alfred Williams
    by Anonymous. Note: One source attributes this poem to the English poet William Collins, however, this is not possible considering William Collins died before the Battle of Monmouth took place.

     Full Text

    On the bloody field of Monmouth
    Flashed the guns of Greene and Wayne,
    Fiercely roared the tide of battle,
    Thick the sward was heaped with slain.
    Foremost, facing death and danger,
    Hessian, horse, and grenadier,
    In the vanguard, fiercely fighting,
    Stood an Irish Cannonier.

    Loudly roared his iron cannon,
    Mingling ever in the strife,
    And beside him, firm and daring,
    Stood his faithful Irish wife.
    Of her bold contempt of danger
    Greene and Lee’s Brigades could tell,
    Every one knew “Captain Molly,”
    And the army loved her well.

    Surged the roar of battle round them,
    Swiftly flew the iron hail,
    Forward dashed a thousand bayonets,
    That lone battery to assail.
    From the foeman’s foremost columns
    Swept a furious fusillade,
    Mowing down the massed battalions
    In the ranks of Greene’s Brigade.

    Fast and faster worked the gunner,
    Soiled with powder, blood, and dust,
    English bayonets shone before him,
    Shot and shell around him burst;
    Still he fought with reckless daring,
    Stood and manned her long and well,
    Till at last the gallant fellow
    Dead—beside his cannon fell.

    With a bitter cry of sorrow,
    And a dark and angry frown,
    Looked that band of gallant patriots
    At their gunner stricken down.
    “Fall back, comrades, it is folly
    Thus to strive against the foe.”
    “No! not so,” cried Irish Molly,
    “We can strike another blow.”

    Quickly leaped she to the cannon,
    In her fallen husband’s place,
    Sponged and rammed it fast and steady,
    Fired it in the foeman’s face.
    Flashed another ringing volley,
    Roared another from the gun;
    “Boys, hurrah!” cried gallant Molly,
    “For the flag of Washington.”

    Greene’s Brigade, though torn and shattered,
    Slain and bleeding half their men,
    When they heard that Irish slogan,
    Turned and charged the foe again.
    Knox and Wayne and Morgan rally,
    To the front they forward wheel,
    And before their rushing onset
    Clinton’s English columns reel.

    Still the cannon’s voice in anger
    Rolled and rattled o’er the plain,
    Till there lay in swarms around it
    Mangled heaps of Hessian slain.
    “Forward! charge them with the bayonet!”
    ’T was the voice of Washington,
    And there burst a fiery greeting
    From the Irish woman’s gun.

    Monckton falls; against his columns
    Leap the troops of Mayne and Lee,
    And before their reeking bayonets
    Clinton’s red battalions flee.
    Morgan’s rifles, fiercely flashing,
    Thin the foe’s retreating ranks,
    And behind them onward dashing
    Ogden hovers on their flanks.

    Fast they fly, these boasting Britons,
    Who in all their glory came,
    With their brutal Hessian hirelings
    To wipe out our country’s name.
    Proudly floats the starry banner,
    Monmouth’s glorious field is won,
    And in triumph Irish Molly
    Stands beside her smoking gun.

  27. The Swedish Wife

    by Henrietta Gould Rowe. In the State House at Augusta, Me., is a bunch of cedar shingles made by a Swedish woman the wife of one of the earliest settlers of New Sweden, who, with her husband sick and a family of little ones dependent upon her, made with her own hands these shingles, and carried them eight miles upon her back to the town of Caribou, where she exchanged them for provisions for her family.

    The morning sun shines bright and clear,
    Clear and cold, for winter is near,—
    Winter, the chill and dread:
    And the fire burns bright in the exile's home,
    With fagot of fir from the mountain's dome,
    While the children clamor for bread.

    Against the wall stands the idle wheel,
    Unfinished the thread upon the spindle and reel,
    The empty cards are crost;
    But nigh to the hearthstone sits the wife,
    With cleaver and mallet,—so brave and so blithe,
    She fears not famine or frost.

    Fair and soft are her braided locks,
    And the light in her blue eye merrily mocks
    The shadow of want and fear,
    As deftly, with fingers supple and strong,
    She draws the glittering shave along,
    O'er the slab of cedar near.

    Neatly and close are the shingles laid,
    Bound in a bunch,—then, undismayed,
    The Swedish wife uprose:
    "Be patient, my darlings," she blithely said,
    "I go to the town, and you shall have bread,
    Ere the day has reached its close."

    Eight miles she trudged—'twas a weary way;
    The road was rough, the sky grew gray
    With the snow that sifted down;
    Bent were her shoulders beneath their load,
    But high was her heart, for love was the goad
    That urged her on to the town.

    Ere the sun went down was her promise kept,
    The little ones feasted before they slept;
    While the father, sick in bed,
    Prayed softly, with tears and murmurs low,
    That his household darlings might never know
    A lack of their daily bread.

  28. Joan D'Arc

    by James B. Kenyon

    Once in the fields she watched her peaceful flocks;
    Light were her feet upon the sunny hills;
    For her the violets smiled beside the rocks;
    Hers was the silver music of the rills.

    She breathed fine odors from the woody place
    Where cool, deep ferns were set; above her head
    The summer sky leaned like a tender face;
    Along her path the morning dews were shed.

    But suddenly she heard the wild alarm
    Of deadly war; then from her simple sheep,
    Forth to the conflict and the battle's harm
    She went like one awaking from a sleep.

    Ah! when the flames rolled round her in the mart,
    And cruel faces' wavered through the haze
    Of her fierce martyrdom,—when on her heart
    Thronged the swift memories of other days,—

    Perchance no thought of royal pomp and pride,
    No thought of armies, nor of iron war's
    Torn fields, nor of the men who fought and died,
    Nor yet of stony cells nor prison bars,—

    No thought of these was hers; but on her ears
    Faint sounds of sheep-bells smote, as in a dream,
    And a fair vision glimmered through her tears—
    Her father's cottage by a quiet stream.

  29. The Brave at Home

    by Thomas Buchanan Read

    The maid who binds her warrior's sash,
    And, smiling, all her pain dissembles,
    The while beneath the drooping lash,
    One starry tear-drop hangs and trembles;
    Though Heaven alone records the tear,
    And fame shall never know her story,
    Her heart has shed a drop as dear
    As ever dewed the field of glory!

    The wife who girds her husband's sword,
    'Mid little ones who weep and wonder,
    And bravely speaks the cheering word,
    What though her heart be rent asunder;—
    Doomed nightly in her dreams to hear
    The bolts of war around him rattle,—
    Has shed as sacred blood as e'er
    Was poured upon the field of battle!

    The mother who conceals her grief,
    While to her breast her son she presses,
    Then breathes a few brave words and brief,
    Kissing the patriot brow she blesses;
    With no one but her loving God,
    To know the pain that weighs upon her,
    Sheds holy blood as e'er the sod
    Received on Freedom's field of honor!

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