Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Wasp and Frolic—1813
FRESH blows the gale—o’er Ocean’s azure realm,
  “In goodly trim, the gallant vessel glides:”
Heroic Jones, presiding, takes the helm;
  His country’s honour is the star that guides!
A band of heroes all his dangers share:        5
  Who, when their country calls them to provoke
The dread, the unequal contest, nobly dare
  The red artillery of the British oak.
At length, impell’d by favouring gales along,
  Majestic now she ploughs the briny deeps,        10
The dread avenger of our country’s wrong,
  While, undisturb’d, the treasured vengeance sleeps.
Dim in the horizon, Albion’s hostile star,
  In silent grandeur, rises on the sight:
Terrific omen! honour’d wide and far:        15
  The harbinger of death, and pale affright.
Near and more near the bloody contest draws;
  Frowning they meet, and awfully serene:
And, ere the strife begins, in solemn pause,
  They stand and watch the narrow space between.        20
It was an hour to none but heroes dear,
  When vulgar mortals tremble and despair:
When all the patriot has to hope, or fear,
  Seems but suspended by a single hair.
At such an hour, what hostile passions meet!        25
  What wild emotions enter and depart!
What hopes of glory—fears of foul defeat!
  All throng, tumultuous, through the stoutest heart!
But mark! around what sudden glooms infest,
  As if the clouds that sail’d the realms of air        30
At once had settled on the ocean’s breast,
  And fix’d the region of contention there.
Unusual darkness on the surface lies;
  A night of horror veils the combat o’er,
Disturb’d by victor-shouts and dying cries—        35
  By lightning flashes, and the thunder’s roar.
Now light returns: but what dismay and rout!
  How cold the cheek where hope was so elate!
And the pale lip still quivers with the shout
  Of joy and triumph in the hour of fate.        40
Short was the contest—O! in pity, spare!
  Ye sights unholy, vanish from my ken:
For supplicating Mercy’s cries, Forbear!
  Nor taunt with victory these dying men.
But welcome, heroes! to your native land;        45
  Safe from the arduous perils of the fight;
And welcome, gallant leader of the band!
  Who blushes when he finds his fame so bright.
And welcome, Booth and Rodgers! welcome, Knight!
  And Rapp!—such noble souls will ne’er refuse        50
This poor requital, and with rudeness slight
  The humble offering of no venal Muse.
Nor, Claxton, shall thy worth unsung remain:
  Thy early day betokens promise fair;
For glory hover’d round the brows of pain,        55
  And mark’d, unseen, the future hero there.
Nor shall thy merits, Biddle, pass untold,
  When, cover’d with the cannon’s flaming breath,
Onward he press’d, unconquerably bold;
  He fear’d dishonour, but he spurn’d at death.        60
He moved the foremost of the gallant band,
  Undaunted by the roar of hostile arms;
And led reluctant Victory by the hand,
  Confused and blushing, in her blaze of charms.
Then welcome, heroes! for your glory lives;        65
  Nor shall malignant envy dare assail:
Receive the laurel which your country gives,
  And share her triumphs while she tells the tale.

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