William Gilmore Simms

(1806 - 1870 / USA)

Morris Island


Oh! from the deeds well done, the blood well shed
In a good cause springs up to crown the land
With ever-during verdure, memory fed,
Wherever freedom rears one fearless band,
The genius, which makes sacred time and place,
Shaping the grand memorials of a race!

The barren rock becomes a monument,
The sea-shore sands a shrine;
And each brave life, in desperate conflict spent,
Grows to a memory which prolongs a line!

Oh! barren isle--oh! fruitless shore,
Oh! realm devoid of beauty--how the light
From glory's sun streams down for evermore,
Hallowing your ancient barrenness with bright!

Brief dates, your lowly forts; but full of glory,
Worthy a life-long story;
Remembered, to be chronicled and read,
When all your gallant garrisons are dead;
And to be sung
While liberty and letters find a tongue!

Taught by the grandsires at the ingle-blaze,
Through the long winter night;
Pored over, memoried well, in winter days,
While youthful admiration, with delight,
Hangs, breathless, o'er the tale, with silent praise;
Seasoning delight with wonder, as he reads
Of stubborn conflict and audacious deeds;
Watching the endurance of the free and brave,
Through the protracted struggle and close fight,
Contending for the lands they may not save,
Against the felon, and innumerous foe;
Still struggling, though each rampart proves a grave.
For home, and all that's dear to man below!

Earth reels and ocean rocks at every blow;
But still undaunted, with a martyr's might,
They make for man a new Thermopylae;
And, perishing for freedom, still go free!
Let but each humble islet of our coast
Thus join the terrible issue to the last;
And never shall the invader make his boast
Of triumph, though with mightiest panoply
He seeks to rend and rive, to blight and blast!

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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