Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Elegy on the Death of Major Wyllys
By St. John Honeywood (1763–1798)
 
          Of the Federal troops, who fell in an engagement with the savages at the river St. Joseph, in the Western Territory of the United States

WHERE the sack’d hamlet darts expiring gleams
Through smouldering clouds, and thy encrimson’d streams,
Wabash! slow rolling to the western bourne,
Thy slaughter’d sons in sullen murmurs mourn;
There, if e’er chance the traveller shall lead,        5
The blood-drench’d shore with reverence let him tread
And mark the spot where oft at eve, unseen,
The weeping Genii plant the laurel green,
And Fancy bids her choicest flowerets rise
To deck the lonely grave where Wyllys lies.        10
  If polish’d manners, undisguised by art,
The tenderest feelings, and the firmest heart,
Where lavish Heaven united every grace
To the mild virtues of the Wyllys race:
If worth, long tried, distinguish’d, and approved,        15
Could move the tyrant Death, or e’er had moved,
Thy valued life had known a longer date,
Nor savage yells announced thy hapless fate.
  A bard, the meanest of the tuneful throng,
Whose idle lyre has long remain’d unstrung,        20
Who loved thee living, and regrets thee dead,
Pays this last tribute to thy gentle shade.
The historic muse, in more exalted verse,
May thus to future times thy fate rehearse:
From England’s gentlest blood, an honour’d name        25
In virtues, arts, and arms long known to fame,
He sprung: where Hartford crowns, with spiry pride,
Her gay, romantic banks and crystal tide,
His infant sports and happier hours were led,
Till Yale’s fair laurels graced his youthful head:        30
What time the Briton to our guiltless shore,
In proud array, his thundering legions bore;
When first Columbia’s starry flag, unfurl’d,
Show’d a new eagle to the wondering world,
The gallant youth appear’d at Freedom’s shrine,        35
Drew his yet unstain’d sword, and join’d the embattled line:
There, in long toils and dangers tried, he won
The approving smiles of godlike Washington!
With tarnish’d arms the Britons sought the main,
And heaven-born Peace resumed her golden reign.        40
The patriot bands, relieved from martial toil,
Return and court the long-neglected soil:
Severer cares his warrior arms engage,
To guard the western realm, and quell barbarian rage;
And, lo! on wild Miami’s dusky plain,        45
O’er slaughter’d heaps he leads his victor train;
There, as the foe in trembling haste retires,
In Glory’s arms the gallant chief expires.
  Columbians, rise! no more inactive lie,
Your slaughter’d friends for speedy vengeance cry:        50
Their mangled corses, and yet teeming blood,
Their groans, yet echoing in the western wood;
The matron’s piercing shriek, the infant’s cries,
And yon brown cloud slow rising to the skies,
Call to revenge—to arms! to arms repair!        55
Urge home the ruthless brood, and wage eternal war
On those cursed miscreants, whom no faith can bind,
The scourge of God! the terror of mankind!
Then let the vengeful bolts of war be hurl’d,
And with black myriads crowd the infernal world!        60
 
 
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