Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Ocean-Fight
 
The nocturnal engagement between the Wasp and Avon gave rise to this poem.

THE SUN had sunk beneath the west,
When two proud barks to battle press’d,
With swelling sail and streamers dress’d,
          So gallantly.
 
Proud Britain’s pennon flouts the skies:        5
Columbia’s flag more proudly flies,
Her emblem stars of victories,
          Beam gloriously.
 
Sol’s lingering rays, through vapours shed,
Have streak’d the sky of bloody red,        10
And now the ensanguined lustre spread
          Heaven’s canopy.
 
Dread prelude to that awful night
When Britain’s and Columbia’s might
Join’d in the fierce and bloody fight        15
          Hard rivalry.
 
Now, lowering o’er the stormy deep,
Dank, sable clouds more threatening sweep:
Yet still the barks their courses keep
          Unerringly.        20
 
The northern gales more fiercely blow,
The white foam dashing o’er the prow;
The starry crescent round each bow
          Beams vividly.
 
Near and more near the war-ships ride,        25
Till, ranged for battle, side by side,
Each warrior’s heart beats high with pride
          Of chivalry.
 
’Twas awful, ere the fight begun
To see brave warriors round each gun,        30
While thoughts on home and carnage run,
          Stand silently.
 
As death-like stillness reigns around,
Nature seems wrapp’d in peace profound,
Ere fires, volcanic, mountain bound,        35
          Burst furiously.
 
So, bursting from Columbia’s prow,
Her thunder on the red-cross foe,
The lurid cloud’s sulphuric glow
          Glares awfully.        40
 
Re-echoing peals more fiercely roar,
Britannia’s shatter’d sides run gore,
The foaming waves that raged before,
          Sink, tremulous.
 
Columbia’s last sulphuric blaze,        45
That lights her stripes and starry rays,
The vanquish’d red-cross flag betrays,
          Struck fearfully.
 
And, hark! their piercing shrieks of wo!
Haste, haste and save the sinking foe:        50
Haste, e’er their wreck to bottom go,
          Brave conquerors.
 
Now, honour to the warriors brave,
Whose field of fame, the mountain wave,
Their corses bear to ocean’s cave,        55
          Their sepulchre.
 
Their country’s pæans swell their praise;
And whilst the warm tear, gushing, strays,
Full many a bard shall chant his lays,
          Their requiem.        60
 
 
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