Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Field of Orleans
By Joseph Hutton (1787–1828)
FAREWELL, awhile, domestic charms,
My home and country urge to arms,
’Mid danger’s ranks, and war’s alarms,
  Which stern invaders spread;
And if, perchance, a fatal bourne        5
Forbid the soldier’s safe return,
A nation’s gratitude shall mourn,
  And honor crown, the dead!
Farewell the gathering of the year;
Release the share and grasp the spear;        10
Droop their full ears the swelling grain,
The verdant grass, the luscious cane;
The harvest of another soil
Demands each nerve in manly toil;
Where blood alone may compost yield,        15
And brand and bayonet reap the field.
Delight not me the meed of fame,
The fleeting breath of proud acclaim,
Or warrior’s wreath, or valiant name,—
  Far other joys are mine;        20
I court not battle’s awful brunt,
Nor honors, in the dareful front;
But, my dear country, call’st thou aid,
Behold, I grasp the freeman’s blade,
  And be my service thine!
*      *      *      *
And nearer now the foemen drew,
They press thy borders, Bienvenu,
Stern as the angry winds that blew
  Across thy startled bed!
And dark and dismal was the night,        30
When first they struck the deep’ning fight;
Save when anon, a mournful star,
Streamed feebly from its sphere afar:
The troops a cloud—their weapons steel’d,
The brightest star-light of the field,        35
  A fearful vision spread!
Silent they moved along the lake,
No war sound bids the slumb’ring wake,
Nor dashing oars the waters break,
  To rouse th’ unconscious state;        40
But from her hills of living green,
Columbia’s guardian maid had seen,
She roused at once to intervene,
  And save her sons from fate!
Who, rising o’er the watery bed,        45
To taint the soil with hostile tread,
  The margin bold now climbs?
A warrior stern, who sterner band,
To conquest oft, in Spanish land,
  Had led in former times!        50
Long shall Iberia feel the aid
She gather’d from his biting blade,
When, urged by bold Napoleon,
Invading France came madly on.
And mingling now the conflict, rang        55
Helmet and spear, the battle clang.
But wherefore, warrior, art thou here,
Feels thy bold heart no touch of fear,
When freemen seize the guardian spear,
  Their country to defend?        60
Nought may thy former deeds avail,
No more thy hope shall conquest hail,
The laurels of thy brow grow pale,
  Prophetic of thy end!
*      *      *      *
That time, full many a widowed dame,        65
And orphan, shall with anguish name,
And grief the burning tear drop claim,
  Of every hope deprived!
Whose breast stern war’s resistless aim,
  With misery hath rived!        70
And mark the Caledonian maid,
Of glowing cheek, of auburn braid,
Blue Cheviot’s sloping height above,
She rolls her soft blue eyes of love
Along the western sky-bound wave,        75
Anxious to view the bark so brave,
  That bears her soldier home;
But, ah! the unrelenting glaive,
Has sent him to an early grave,
No tender friend to soothe or save        80
  From carnage and the tomb!
On Mississippi’s side he fell,
Whose rapids roared his dying knell!
Glassy and dim that manly eye,
Which lighted love and ecstacy;        85
Once flamed with hope of proud renown,
And looked the fear of danger down!
The last thought of his throbbing breast,
Turned to the maid he erst had press’d,
When with fond hope supremely bless’d,        90
  No fields of conflict known:
But Hope, thou art a baseless dream,
That wak’st to life thy mimic theme;
For mark the change!—the big tears trace
Their passage down his pallid face,        95
  He heaves the parting groan!
Stern War! what fateful deeds are thine,
With dripping blood thy garments shine,
And Ruin, Rage, with thee combine,
  Whose eyes wild terrors flash!        100
The Horrors form thy dreadful train,
And Cruelty conducts thy wain,
Of bleeding sinews is the rein,
Of clotted braids each courser’s mane,
  Of scorpion fangs the lash!        105
The wheels thy thirsty fury draws
O’er all divine and human laws;
Dashing through each devoted realm
Those waves which roll but to o’erwhelm;
And like the flood which whilom rose,        110
Sweep from the world whate’er oppose!
Such is thy worth, disastrous war,
And such thy ruins, hurl’d afar,
That, when the glorious day may be,
For fate to strike his spear through thee,        115
Thy eulogy’s thy victim’s groans,
Thy monument their bleaching bones!

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