Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Ode to Isaac Hull, Esq.
By William Maxwell
 
          Of the United States navy, on the capture of the Guerriere by the Constitution under his command, on the 19th of August, 1812

    WHAT shouts of rapture burst around!
      And shrinks the timid muse alone?
    Awake the lyre, and bid it sound
      To make Columbia’s triumph known!
    And sweeter than the mermaid’s strain,        5
    Thy song shall stream across the main,
    Till Britain’s shore returns again
The deathless name of Hull, with deep and inward moan.
 
    High on that stern of naval pride,
      Behold the modest hero now!        10
    How gallantly she breasts the tide,
      The stately ship with fearless prow!
    But lo! a hostile flag in sight!
    Ye valiant tars behold the light!
    Ere yonder sun shall set in night,        15
Fresh wreaths of victory shall crown each warrior’s brow.
 
    Yet on she comes—the proud Guerriere!
      I feel her warm sulphureous breath—
    And Hull, “Not yet, but lay me near”—
      Now smiles and gives the sign to Death.        20
    Like two dread clouds of awful form,
    With horror dark, with ruin warm,
    They meet, they mingle in the storm:
Old Ocean shrinks, and groans through all his caves beneath.
 
    What shades, anticipating night,        25
      Have snatch’d the conflict from mine eye;
    Save where yon gleams of livid light,
      Disclose how warriors bleed and die?
    And hark! whose shrieks of woe are these,
    That wail upon the passing breeze?        30
    And, louder than the rolling seas,
Whose shouts of horrid joy now break against the sky?
 
    All still! the awful cloud retires,
      The struggling vessels reappear;
    Columbia’s banner through the fires—        35
      And Dacres’ warlike band is there
    On! gallant Hull, inspire thy men;
    Drive back the Lion to his den;
    Drive back, and he is conquer’d then;
Long shall that banner wave the Briton’s only fear.        40
 
    ’Tis done! Britannia’s ensign falls,
      Proud flag so long, but proud no more.
    “Now spare the foe!” the victor calls:
      The awful thunders cease to roar
    Pleased witness of the glorious fray,        45
    See, smiling, sinks the orb of day,
    And Night, exulting o’er the prey,
Spreads out her eagle wings wide hovering to the shore.
 
    Now, safe, beneath the sparkling stars,
      The Constitution seeks the bay,        50
    While cheerful bands of hardy tars
      Exulting sing the merry lay.
    How fair upon the ocean stream,
    The victor ship, a moving dream!
    While for her victims death-fires beam;        55
Till lost in those pale waves, they fade, they melt away.
 
    But see the sun! Bostonia, rise!
      Mount all thy swelling hills around!
    Let cannon thunder to the skies!
      And mountains echo back the sound!        60
    She comes serenely o’er the tide,
    Her snowy wings expanded wide,
    The conscious ship, in all her pride;
While cheering shouts of joy triumphantly resound.
 
    Yes! welcome, Hull, with all thy band!        65
      Thy country’s boast, and darling, thou!
    Columbia reaches forth her hand:
      “My son, my son, forever now!”
    He springs the sweet embrace to meet,
    He lays his laurels at her feet,        70
    She smiles the smile when angels meet,
Then twines the living wreath around her warrior’s brow.
 
    Fly! spread the board, the feast prepare,
      To make the hero’s welcome known.
    Our gallant sons and blooming fair        75
      Shall feel his honours as their own.
    Yet, ah! mid all this splendid cheer,
    Why falls the strange forbidden tear?
    Alas! for those who are not here
To share these festal rites but half enjoy’d alone.        80
 
    Peace to the dead! Our grateful tears
      Shall consecrate each silent grave;
    But Hull—how sweet that wreath he wears!
      Such living wreaths become the brave.
    And see where melting in his arms,        85
    Lovelier in innocent alarms,
    Yon blushing maid, in all her charms,
Weaves Hymen’s rosy chain for Love’s delighted slave.
 
    Brave hero! Long before the gale,
      Serenely may thy fortunes glide!        90
    Yet, O, beware, contract thy sail,
      And shun the fatal rock of pride.
    Remember, gallant Hull, thy tomb!
    Remember Him, the Lord of Doom!
    Whose smile can bid thy laurels bloom,        95
Whose frown shall scatter yet all impious wreaths aside.
 
 
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