Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Memory of Commodore Preble

  WHILE War, fierce monster, stain’d with guiltless blood,
Roars, threats, and rages round the infuriate flood,
While hostile Britons murdering fleets employ
To infest our harbours and our ships destroy;
Impress our tars in their inglorious cause,        5
In base defiance of all nation’s laws:
When each bold veteran, in his country’s name,
Is call’d to save her freedom and her fame;
When few, whose bravery and whose nautic skill
Can duly execute her sovereign will;        10
What sighs of sorrow waft from shore to shore,
With these sad tidings—“Preble is no more!”
  Erst when mad Tripoli, in prowess vain,
With her rapacious corsairs block’d the main;
Pour’d round our ships in predatory swarms,        15
With purple banners and audacious arms—
Our neutral cargoes plunder’d on the waves,
And made our free-born citizens her slaves:
When our late frigate groan’d upon the shoals,
So deeply freighted with three hundred souls,        20
Who sigh’d in durance till yon lamp of night
Full twenty changes had renew’d its light,
’Twas Preble first that dauntless squadron led
Where Somers perish’d, and Decatur bled;
Where Wadsworth, Israel, met in death their fate        25
With kindred martyrs full as brave and great;
’Twas Preble first those barbarous pirates show’d
Justice was all the tribute that we owed;
And proved, that when Columbia vengeance bears,
’Tis naught but mercy that the victim spares.        30
  Our Preble’s cause even Heaven itself might own,
In heaven ’tis cherish’d, and through earth ’tis known:
It charms their numbers, and it tunes their lyres—
In heaven ’tis warbled from enraptured choirs:
The cause of Freedom, dear to him who knows        35
The adverse horrors, and the poignant woes
Of slavery, dungeons, hunger, stripes, and chains,
With dismal prospects of augmented pains.
To free the captive, noble, generous deed,
Who would not swear to fight, and sigh to bleed?        40
To free the captive, Preble winged his aid,
And more firm valour never was display’d,
When round our prison’s solitary walls
Burst the dread meteor bomb-shells—shower’d the balls.
Our hearts for liberty or death beat high;        45
And who for freedom would not wish to die?
To him we look’d, on him our hopes relied,
The friend of seamen, and the seaman’s pride:
To him we look’d, and righteous Heaven implored
To speed the vengeance of his slaughtering sword:        50
Nor is he now, though vain his efforts proved,
The less lamented, or the less beloved;
But each late captive, year succeeding year,
Will bless his memory, and his name revere.
  Yes, gallant chief! though virtuous, just, and brave,        55
Thine is the lot of man—the dreary grave!
With heroes sainted, who have gone before,
Like them we prized thee, and like them deplore.
And though thine arm, of Barbary once the dread,
Lies cold and wither’d midst the unconscious dead,        60
Unfading laurels at thy name shall bloom,
Spring from thy dust and flourish round thy tomb.
  Lamented chief! though death be calmly past,
Our navy trembled when he breath’d his last!
Our navy mourns him, but it mourns in vain:        65
A Preble ne’er will live—ne’er die again!
Yet hope, desponding, at the thought revives;
A second Preble—a Decatur lives!
His worth, his merit, well are understood,
His hand is skilful, and his heart is good.        70
Bold shall he chase yon demons of the wave,
For all who know him, know him to be brave.
  To him Columbia casts her streaming eyes,
Wipes their free torrent, and suspends her sighs.

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