Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Fate of the U.S. Sloop of War L’Epervier
BEFORE the stars of liberty
  The crescent hid her head,
The thunders of their victory
  She heard afar with dread:
And when the foe she dared was near,        5
In tame submission quell’d her fear.
But where is that brave bark that bore
  The tidings of success?
She left behind the failing shore
  On ocean fathomless—        10
Joy bade the welcome breezes blow,
And Rapture sat upon the prow.
The wheels of time have ceaseless roll’d,
  That mock the dreams of man,
Majestic, as in days of old,        15
  When erst their march began.
Why does that gallant bark yet stay?
Why stops she on her gladsome way?
Days, weeks, and months have fled, to join
  The years beyond the flood,        20
Nor mortal might, nor power divine,
  Can call them where they stood.
That gallant bark has heard her doom—
She comes not—and she may not come.
Thou who hast seen, when, in the hour        25
  That tried the dauntless brave:
That mock’d the boast of human power,
  All impotent to save,
The sailor cast a hopeless eye,
To threatening waves and frowning sky.        30
The ties of friendship—nature—love—
  All, all have own’d thy might:
They cried aloud, but could not move,
  And sunk in one dark night.
Despair around her mantle flung:        35
Their dirge, the storms that whelm’d them sung.
For them, no dear and honour’d hand
  Shall close the failing ball,
When gathering round, the gloomy band
  Of death, the soul appal:        40
Nor earth, by Christian footsteps hallow’d,
Receive the corse the deep has swallow’d.
In caves, dark, desolate, and drear,
  The gallant and the gay,
The forms so loved and cherish’d here,        45
  Are ravening monsters’ prey.
Each bond of love and sorrow burst,
Yes, tyrant, thou hast done thy worst!
Yet, is thy power almighty, then,
  Omnipotent on earth?        50
Destroyer of the sons of men,
  Of beauty and of worth!
And shall Oblivion’s sable cloud,
That hid their fate, their memory shroud?
O, no! the gem that in the beds        55
  Where slumber all the brave,
In vain its mellow lustre sheds
  Upon the envious wave:
Transplanted to a royal shrine,
With brighter lustre ne’er shall shine.        60
Brave bird! thy wings have fail’d to soar,
  Thine eyes were closed for e’er,
The shades of death came blackening o’er,
  And horror brooded near:
But she, whose pinions never tire,        65
Shall bear thee on her wings of fire!

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