Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Bunker’s Hill
By John Burk (1775?–1808)
WHEN o’er Columbia’s fields, in fearful hour,
Glared the red comet of Britannia’s power,
From horrid hair shook flakes of burning wrath,
And war and desolation mark’d its path:
Roused by the fury of her ruthless foes,        5
The angry genius of Columbia rose:
Then, with a voice more loud, more deep than fate,
Was rent the fabric of monarchic state,
And instantaneous, soothing as the lyre,
Which wakes the soul and kindles soft desire,        10
She call’d the great republic into day,
And to a world restored its legal sway:
Behold! her patriot band the lowlands fills
Like to the torrents of a thousand hills,
Which, thundering, to the plain their waters roll,        15
Unite, condense, and form a mighty whole;
Columbia’s sons down Alleghany’s sides
Their fiery cohorts pour in rapid tides:
Whilst o’er the glassy surface of the flood,
Lighted by the sun, a gallant vessel rode;        20
The ark which bears the charter of the land,
It sails directed by the Almighty hand;
Till safe at length from tempest and from flood,
Secure on Freedom’s Ararat it stood.
Thus did this great, this glorious empire rise,        25
Which lifts its patriot honours to the skies,
Spite of the bloody lash, the tyrant’s frown,
The shock of armies and a fleet’s renown.
A nobler theme than this, to grace the stage,
Where can we find in all the historic page?        30
Of Rome’s and Cato’s fall the world has rung:
Why not Columbia’s rising fame be sung?
If Rome her Brutus and her Cato boast;
Her Washington and Warren, each a host,
Columbia owns; with thousand names beside,        35
The least of which would swell the Roman pride;
And midst these themes sublime, these subjects grand,
Which tempt the poet’s fancy in this land,
Where is there one more potent to inspire
Conceptions vast, and wake Parnassian fire,        40
Than when on Bunker’s top a glorious band
Pour’d out their sacred blood to save the land?
And, ere they fell, such fierce destruction hurl’d,
As when volcanoes burn and tear the world.
Such is our bard’s excuse that he this night        45
Renews the horrors of famed Bunker’s fight,
And, bending suppliant at your awful shrine,
His child to your protection doth consign;
Assured of justice, he has dared to trace
Columbia’s glories to Columbia’s race.        50

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