Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Naval Ode: ‘Our walls are on the sea’
By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)
 
  OUR walls are on the sea,
    And they ride along the wave,
  Mann’d with sailors bold and free,
    And the lofty and the brave
Hoist their flag to the sport of the gale:        5
  With an even march they sweep
  O’er the bosom of the deep,
  And their orders trimly keep,
    As they sail.
 
  Though so gallantly we ride,        10
    Yet we do not seek the fight;
  We have justice on our side,
    And we battle in our right,
For our homes, and our altars, and sires;
  Then we kindle in our cause,        15
  And a while a solemn pause—
  When the cannon’s iron jaws
    Spout their fires.
 
  We abhor the waste of life,
    And the massacre of war;        20
  We detest the brutal strife
    In the van of glory’s car;
But we never will shrink from the foe:
  This, when battle’s lightning runs
  Through his horror-speaking guns,        25
  And his brazen thunder stuns,
    He shall know.
 
  We have met them on the deep,
    With Decatur and with Hull,
  Where our fallen comrades sleep        30
    In their glory’s proudest full;
For our homes, we will meet them again:
  Let their boasted navies frown,
  As they proudly bear them down;
  We will conquer, burn, or drown,        35
    On the main.
 
  We, too, have hearts of oak,
    And the hour of strife may come
  With its hurricane of smoke,
    Hissing ball and bursting bomb,        40
And the death-shot may launch through our crew;
  But our spirits feel no dread,
  And we bear our ship ahead,
  For we know that Honour’s bed
    Is our due.        45
 
  Then, come on, ye gallant tars!
    With your matches in your hand,
  And parade beneath our stars
    With a free and noble stand,
As you wait for the moment of death:        50
  Hark the word—the foe is nigh,
  And at once their war-dogs fly,
  But with bosoms throbbing high,
    Yield your breath.
 
  Do your duty, gallant boys!        55
    And you homeward shall return
  To partake your country’s joys,
    When the lights of triumph burn,
And the warm toast is drank to the brave;
  Then, when country calls again,        60
  Be your march along the main,
  And in glory spread her reign
    O’er the wave.
 
 
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