Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Death of Col. Laurens
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
          To the memory of the brave, accomplished, and patriotic Col. John Laurens, who, in the twenty-seventh year of his age, was killed in an engagement with a detachment of the British from Charleston, near the river Cambahee, in South Carolina, August, 1782.

SINCE on her plains this generous chief expired,
Whom sages honour’d and whom France admired;
Does fame no statues to his memory raise,
Nor swells one column to record his praise;
Where her palmetto shades the adjacent deeps,        5
Affection sighs, and Carolina weeps!
 
Thou who shalt stray where death this chief confines,
Approach, and read the patriot in these lines:
Not from the dust the muse transcribes his name,
And more than marble shall declare his fame;        10
Where scenes more glorious his great soul engage,
Confess’d thrice worthy in that closing page;
When conquering Time to dark oblivion calls,
The marble totters, and the column falls.
 
Laurens, thy tomb while kindred hands adorn,        15
Let northern muses, too, inscribe thy urn;
Of all, whose names on death’s black list appear,
No chief that perish’d claim’d more grief sincere;
Not one, Columbia, that thy bosom bore,
More tears commanded or deserved them more!        20
Grief at his tomb shall heave the unwearied sigh,
And honour lift the mantle to her eye;
Fame through the world his patriot name shall spread,
By heroes envied and by monarchs read;
Just, generous, brave—to each true heart allied,        25
The Briton’s terror, and his country’s pride;
For him the tears of war-worn soldiers ran,
The friend of Freedom, and the friend of man.
 
Then what is death, compared with such a tomb,
Where honour fades not, and fair virtues bloom?        30
Ah! what is death, when fame like this endears
The brave man’s favourite, and his country’s tears!
 
 
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