Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1765–1787
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1765–1787
 
The Ballad of Nathan Hale
Revolutionary Songs and Ballads
 
[Moore’s “Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution.” 1856.]

THE BREEZES went steadily through the tall pines,
  A-saying “oh! hu-ush!” a-saying “oh! hu-ush!”
As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse,
  For Hale in the bush, for Hale in the bush.
 
“Keep still!” said the thrush as she nestled her young,        5
  In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road.
“For the tyrants are near, and with them appear
  What bodes us no good, what bodes us no good.”
 
The brave captain heard it, and thought of his home
  In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook.        10
With mother and sister and memories dear,
  He so gayly forsook; he so gayly forsook.
 
Cooling shades of the night were coming apace,
  The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat.
The noble one sprang from his dark lurking-place,        15
  To make his retreat; to make his retreat.
 
He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves,
  As he passed through the wood; as he passed through the wood;
And silently gained his rude launch on the shore,
  As she played with the flood; as she played with the flood.        20
 
The guards of the camp, on that dark, dreary night,
  Had a murderous will; had a murderous will.
They took him and bore him afar from the shore,
  To a hut on the hill; to a hut on the hill.
 
No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer,        25
  In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell.
But he trusted in love, from his Father above.
  In his heart, all was well; in his heart, all was well.
 
An ominous owl, with his solemn bass voice,
  Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by:        30
“The tyrant’s proud minions most gladly rejoice,
  For he must soon die; for he must soon die.”
 
The brave fellow told them, no thing he restrained,—
  The cruel general! the cruel general!—
His errand from camp, of the ends to be gained,        35
  And said that was all; and said that was all.
 
They took him and bound him and bore him away,
  Down the hill’s grassy side; down the hill’s grassy side.
’Twas there the base hirelings, in royal array,
  His cause did deride; his cause did deride.        40
 
Five minutes were given, short moments, no more,
  For him to repent; for him to repent.
He prayed for his mother, he asked not another,
  To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went.
 
The faith of a martyr the tragedy showed,        45
  As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage.
And Britons will shudder at gallant Hale’s blood,
  As his words do presage, as his words do presage.
 
“Thou pale king of terrors, thou life’s gloomy foe,
  Go frighten the slave, go frighten the slave;        50
Tell tyrants, to you their allegiance they owe.
  No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave.”

  1776.
 
 
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