William Gilmore Simms

(1806 - 1870 / USA)

Ode--


I
Do ye quail but to hear, Carolinians,
The first foot-tramp of Tyranny's minions?
Have ye buckled on armor, and brandished the spear,
But to shrink with the trumpet's first peal on the ear?
Why your forts now embattled on headland and height,
Your sons all in armor, unless for the fight?
Did ye think the mere show of your guns on the wall,
And your shouts, would the souls of the heathen appal?
That his lusts and his appetites, greedy as Hell,
Led by Mammon and Moloch, would sink at a spell;--
Nor strive, with the tiger's own thirst, lest the flesh
Should be torn from his jaws, while yet bleeding afresh.

II.

For shame! To the breach, Carolinians!--
To the death for your sacred dominions!--
Homes, shrines, and your cities all reeking in flame,
Cry aloud to your souls, in their sorrow and shame;
Your greybeards, with necks in the halter--
Your virgins, defiled at the altar,--
In the loathsome embrace of the felon and slave,
Touch loathsomer far than the worm of the grave!
Ah! God! if you fail in this moment of gloom!
How base were the weakness, how horrid the doom!
With the fiends in your streets howling paeans,
And the Beast o'er another Orleans!

III.

Do ye quail, as on yon little islet
They have planted the feet that defile it?
Make its sands pure of taint, by the stroke of the sword,
And by torrents of blood in red sacrifice pour'd!
Doubts are Traitors, if once they persuade you to fear,
That the foe, in his foothold, is safe from your spear!
When the foot of pollution is set on your shores,
What sinew and soul should be stronger than yours?
By the fame--by the shame--of your sires,
Set on, though each freeman expires;
Better fall, grappling fast with the foe, to their graves,
Than groan in your fetters, the slaves of your slaves.

IV.
The voice of your loud exultation
Hath rung, like a trump, through the nation,
How loudly, how proudly, of deeds to be done,
The blood of the sire in the veins of the son!
Old Moultrie and Sumter still keep at your gates,
And the foe in his foothold as patiently waits.
He asks, with a taunt, by your patience made bold,
If the hot spur of Percy grows suddenly cold--
Makes merry with boasts of your city his own,
And the Chivalry fled, ere his trumpet is blown;
Upon them, O sons of the mighty of yore,
And fatten the sands with their Sodomite gore!

V.

Where's the dastard that cowers and falters
In the sight of his hearthstones and altars?
With the faith of the free in the God of the brave,
Go forth; ye are mighty to conquer and save!
By the blue Heaven shining above ye,
By the pure-hearted thousands that love ye,
Ye are armed with a might to prevail in the fight,
And an aegis to shield and a weapon to smite!
Then fail not, and quail not; the foe shall prevail not:
With the faith and the will, ye shall conquer him still.
To the knife--with the knife, Carolinians,
For your homes, and your sacred dominions.

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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