Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Constitution and Guerriere
A SAIL! all hands! the boatswain pipes,
  And, instant, at the signal sound,
Beneath the waving stars and stripes
  Each sailor at his post is found.
Due south, close haul’d, in trim array,        5
  A gallant frigate’s on our lee—
She hoists her flag—my hearts, huzza!
  Huzza! the English ensign see.
O’er all the crew, with heart elate,
  Our captain glanced his eagle eye,        10
And saw each tar impatient wait,
  To meet the veteran enemy.
And see! with topsail to the mast,
  The foe destructive fires prepare,
As ship to ship, approaching fast,        15
  All calm and silent, down we bear.
But when yard-arm and yard-arm met,
  Our cannon swept his decks amain,
In vain that boasted flag he set,
  Which long had awed the subject main.        20
In vain to every mast he nails
  That flag; for, carried by the deck,
Like shatter’d oaks in wintry gales,
  Each, crashing, falls—a lumbering wreck.
No Frenchmen now the conflict wage—        25
  The Briton finds another foe;
And learns, amidst the battle’s rage,
  Columbia’s hearts and hands to know.
What shall the desperate chieftain do?
  Around, his bravest men expire!        30
No hope is left! he speaks—his crew
  A leeward gun, reluctant, fire.
Columbia! from your fatal sleep
  Arise, your tars, your rights to save!
Thus guard their freedom on the deep:        35
  Thus claim your empire on the wave.

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