Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Battle—a Naval Ode—1815
  OF Columbia in her might,
    Sing again of naval war,
  When, in fierce and bloody fight,
    Our gallant, favour’d tar,
Brave Biddle, met the foe on the wave:        5
  Then thrice Brazilian shore
  Heard her guns triumphant roar,
  And its waves drank deep of gore
        Of the brave.
  ’Twas March the twenty-third        10
    When the Hornet’s eager crew
  The cheering signal heard,
    And the word as lightning flew,
When the seaman, from aloft, cried, “a sail!”
  Then glanced each stripe and star        15
  As, on board, each dauntless tar
  Gave three cheers, that floated far
        On the gale.
  Now steady gales from west
    Proudly swell’d the crowded sails,        20
  And glow’d each warrior’s breast,
    While through the ship prevails
Deep silence, like the sleep of the dead—
  Save, at intervals, is heard,
  The captain’s mandate word,        25
  “Keep her steady, thus aboard,
        Mind her head!”
  Ranged broadside to broadside,
    For the close decisive fight,
  Waved the St. George in its pride:        30
    But our victor stars, more bright,
Beam’d defiance to the might of the foe:
  Soon their shouts that swell the gale,
  Shall be changed to sounds of wail,
  And their “meteor-flag” wane pale        35
        In their wo.
  Then fore and aft each gun
    O’er and o’er its thunders peal’d,
  Till the war-clouds veil’d the sun,
    And each gallant ship conceal’d.        40
Yet o’er the deep the battle loudly roar’d:
  Now another broadside given
  As by lightning-blast of heaven,
  The Briton’s mast is riven
        By the board.        45
  Now yard and yard engaged,
    O’er the Penguin havoc spread;
  Yet the battle fiercely raged
    Till her deck was strew’d with dead:
And as the swelling ocean made her heel,        50
  By sulphureous blaze reveal’d,
  As each thundering broadside peal’d,
  The shatter’d Red-cross reel’d
        On her keel.
  Then sunk Britannia’s pride;        55
    Waved her haughty flag no more;
  But, o’er the troubled tide,
    The proud Britons aid implore,
And quarters from the valiant victors crave.
  Ceased the fierce and bloody fray,        60
  And the dun clouds roll’d away,
  When, a wreck, the Briton lay
        On the wave.
  Now laud we that good Power
    Who our gallant hero saved,        65
  When danger’s darkest hour
    On the deck of fame he braved,
And the victor’s eagle perch’d upon his crest—
  And the fame shall spread afar
  Of each true patriot tar        70
  Who has triumph’d ’neath the star
        Of the west!

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