Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
A Sailor’s Elegy, on the Fate of the Wasp
 
O! WHEN, in some illustrious fight,
  Stout warriors yield at Fate’s rude call,
They fall, like shooting stars at night,
  And brighten as they fall.
 
A thousand tongues their deeds relate,        5
  And with the story never tire,
A country mourns their noble fate,
  And ladies weep, and men admire.
 
But dreary is the fate of those
  I mourn, in this rough sailor strain,        10
Who perish’d—how, no mortal knows,
  And perish’d all in vain.
 
Who in our country cannot tell
  How Blakeley brought the red-cross low,
And twice triumphantly did quell        15
  The prowess of a valiant foe?
 
Who has not heard of his brave men,
  All valiant hearts of sterling gold
Who braved the lion in his den,
  And turn’d his hot blood into cold?        20
 
Who has not wish’d that they were here,
  Escaped the ocean’s perils rude,
To share our country’s welcome cheer,
  And reap a nation’s gratitude?
 
But they will never come again        25
  To claim the welcome of their home;
Affection looks for them in vain;
  Too surely they will never come.
 
Far distant from their native land
  They perish’d in the yawning deep,        30
Where there was none to stretch a hand,
  And none their fate to weep.
 
No ear their dreary-drowning cry
  Heard o’er the desert wave;
Their dying struggle met no eye,        35
  No friendly aid to save.
 
And when they perish’d none can tell,
  Nor where their bones are laid—
The spot Affection loves so well,
  No mourner’s step will tread.        40
 
No tender friend will ever go
  To seek the spot where they abide,
Nor child, or widow, full of wo,
  Tell how, and when, and where they died.
 
Alas! they have no church-yard grave,        45
  No mound to mark the spot;
They moulder in the deep, deep wave,
  Just where—it matters not.
 
They perish’d far away from home,
  A few will weep these sailors bold,        50
For e’er the certain news shall come,
  Our feelings will grow cold.
 
By slow degrees hope will expire,
  And when the anxious feeling’s o’er,
Stale Memory will quench her fire,        55
  And sorrow be no more!
 
Save where some pale and widow’d one,
  By grief, or madness cross’d,
Shall cling to one dear hope alone,
  And hope, though hope were lost.        60
 
By fond imagination led,
  Or ideal visions driven,
O! she will ne’er believe him dead,
  Till they do meet in heaven.
 
 
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