Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
An Ode: ‘Dark is the night, and deep and lowering’
By Mr. Blauvelt
          Commemorative of the deaths of Lieutenants Somers of the American navy, and his brave companions, before Tripoli, in the summer of 1805.
  Commodore Preble, with a view as much as possible to harass the enemy, ordered the ketch Intrepid to be filled with materials for a destructive explosion, and gave the conduct of her to Lieutenants Somers, Wadswortn, Israel, and a few others. Their orders were, to approach, under cover of the night, as near as they could to the town and batteries, and, after firing a train provided for that purpose, to make their escape to the fleet in boats. A premature discovery of them by the enemy, rendered it impossible for them either to reach the station which they contemplated, or to make their escape; and these brave men, with an intrepidity almost beyond parallel, preferring death to an ignominious servitude, set fire to the train, and were blown, with their enemies, into the air. This catastrophe is made the subject of the following ode.
 ———Evenit ad deos—
Aget Penna metuente solvi
    Fama superste—
———ibi tu calentem
Debita sparges, Lachryma faviliam.

DARK is the night, and deep and lowering
  Hang its shadows o’er the main;
On the billow awful towering,
  Yonder glide the warrior train.
Not a star betrays their motions,        5
  Hush’d, unseen, they hold their way
Sullen as the calm of ocean,
  At the lurid close of day.
Lo! the fleet with valour teeming,
  Dimly skirts the westward sky;        10
Hope and doubt alternate beaming
  From the war-instructed eye.
Preble there, serene, presiding,
  Distant marks the floating death,
Toward the castle darkly gliding,        15
  Aided by the breeze’s breath.
Chief of daring! thine is glory
  Far beyond the reach of Fate:
Slain—immortalized in story,
  Living—valorous and great.        20
Thine the calm, heroic spirit,
  Firm to act, and bold to dare,
Or to grasp the meed of merit,
  Or the hero’s grave to share!
Now the bark, in distance fading,
  Glooms beneath the turret-steep,
Not a sound the ear invading,
  Save the murmur of the deep.
Surely she has gain’d her station,
  Lost in distance and in gloom:        30
’Tis the pause of expectation—
  ’Tis the silence of the tomb.
Warriors! rue the gale that bore them:
  Rue the gloom that wrapp’d the skies:
Never shall the sun restore them        35
  To your valour-weeping eyes!
Shield them, Heaven, amid the explosion:
  Quickly waft them from the shore.
Who can bear the swift concussion?
  Who can list the sudden roar?        40
See, the flash! one moment shining,
  Ocean, earth, and heaven illume!
Now, again, ’tis lost—resigning
  Heaven, and earth, and sea to gloom.
Horror all, and wild commotion—        45
  Shrieks of millions from the shore—
Gleaming on the sulphurous ocean,
  Cannons burst with rapid roar:
Atlas, trembling, hears the thunder
  Bellow through his shores below;        50
Sees his tawny sons of plunder,
  Frighted, fly without a foe.
Air, (by the Turks.)
Allah! whence this dire undoing
  Rushing through the troubled air?
Save, O save thy race from ruin!        55
  Shield the faithful from despair!
O’er the scene, at length, reposing,
  Wrapp’d in desolation’s reign,
Morn, reluctantly disclosing,
  Faintly gilds the eastward plain.        60
Chorus, (by the Crew.)
Rise in haste, O God of splendour!
  Valour bids thee swiftly rise:
Triumph to the deeds we’ll render
  Veil’d by midnight from our eyes.
Hail, the wave that, to our wishes,        65
  Proudly wafts the daring few!
Hail, the dawn that bears, propitious,
  Fame and Somers to his crew!
Morning breaks—but, ah, to languish!
  Lurid was the light it shed        70
O’er the inquiring eye of anguish;
  For the warrior train are fled.
Air, First.
Gallant warriors! well attended
  Rush’d your valour to its grave;
Many a foe, convulsive rended,        75
  Grimly sank beneath the wave.
Well aveng’d, ere long, you’ll number
  Victims, weltering pale and low:
Many a Turk, in icy slumbers,
  Soon shall knit the savage brow.        80
Generous youths your story telling,
  Though a sigh suspend the breath;
Every nerve to frenzy swelling,
  Claims a victory from death.
Air, Second.
Heralds of your country’s glory,
  Dawning on the path of time,
Age shall kindle at your story,
  Cherish’d oft in future rhyme.
For, the bard on Fame attending,
  Shall, enraptured by the tale,        90
O’er his harp of legends bending,
  Give your glories to the gale.
Beauty too, a wreath bestowing,
  Bids it flourish round your bier—
Ever in remembrance glowing,        95
  Ever water’d by her tear.
Air, Third.
Often shall the Arab wander
  From his hills of sunny sand,
On your deeds of fame to ponder,
  Circled by his listening band—        100
“Perish’d here,” he’ll say, “the stranger,
  When the star of night was high:
Like thee, Christian, braving danger,
  Be it mine like thee to die!”

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