Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
’Tis True That the Harp
By William Wallace
 
’TIS true, that the harp of the poet lies sleeping:
  But, O! would you have it from slumber unbound
When the spirits of melody bend o’er it, weeping,
  And fearfully draw from the lyre a sound?
For a voice hath gone forth from the queen of the ocean,        5
  “The themes, and the scenery of Liberty’s clime
Can never awake in her sons an emotion
  Of rapture and feeling—grand, thrilling, sublime!”
 
’Twas thus, as I sat by a dark-rolling fountain,
  My harp gave its tones to the whispering gale;        10
When, lo! from the distant and pine-covered mountain,
  I saw a rich splendour flash down on the vale—
’Twas Columbia’s genius whose eyes gave the glory.
  Around her tall brow were the wings of the storm,
And the scenes which have checker’d her undying story        15
  Were traced on the robes that enveloped her form!
 
“Awake from thy slumbers!” the spirit cried, glowing
  With the lustre that fell from her own sparkling eyes;
“‘No themes for the poet?’ when, brilliantly flowing,
  Yon cataracts mirror the storm of the skies!        20
‘No themes for the lyre!’ behold the bright river!
  How gloriously under the heaven it shines!
While the sunlight of eve, like an archangel’s quiver,
  Hangs splendidly over its towering pines!
 
“‘No scenes for a bard!’ Look abroad, on the billows,        25
  Where Perry has gallantly written his name—
And still, on old Erie, the Thunder-god pillows
  His forehead of fury in garlands of flame.
Hark, hark! from the blue of the heaven hung o’er us
  The proud bird of Liberty utters his scream        30
As he mounts to his idol, and, proudly, before us
  Is lost in its light, and ‘unfolds in its beam.’
 
“‘No scenes for a lyre!’ when, gloriously beaming
  With the bright eyes of heaven, that flag is beheld
On the mountain! the topmast! the capital, streaming,        35
  As if by the fingers of seraphim held!
So long as our eagle shall moisten his pinions,
  In clouds bending over this mountainous steep—
So long as Columbia’s unshackled dominions
  Are wreathed by the foam of the dark-rolling deep—        40
 
“So long as her proud Mississippi, while counting
  The years of eternity, rolls to the sea—
Or, the bow of Niagara, splendidly mounting,
  From the cataract’s bosom, shines out on the free—
So long hurl your scorn to the queen of the ocean,        45
  So long let your scorn with the truth be impress’d
And sing with a poet’s—a patriot’s devotion,
  The torrents, the lakes, and the deeds of the west!
 
 
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