Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
William Cullen Bryant. 1794–1878
22. Song of Marion's Men
OUR band is few but true and tried, 
  Our leader frank and bold; 
The British soldier trembles 
  When Marion's name is told. 
Our fortress is the good greenwood,         5
  Our tent the cypress-tree; 
We know the forest round us, 
  As seamen know the sea. 
We know its walls of thorny vines, 
  Its glades of reedy grass,  10
Its safe and silent islands 
  Within the dark morass. 
Woe to the English soldiery 
  That little dread us near! 
On them shall light at midnight  15
  A strange and sudden fear: 
When, waking to their tents on fire, 
  They grasp their arms in vain, 
And they who stand to face us 
  Are beat to earth again;  20
And they who fly in terror deem 
  A mighty host behind, 
And hear the tramp of thousands 
  Upon the hollow wind. 
Then sweet the hour that brings release  25
  From danger and from toil; 
We talk the battle over, 
  And share the battle's spoil. 
The woodland rings with laugh and shout, 
  As if a hunt were up,  30
And woodland flowers are gathered 
  To crown the soldier's cup. 
With merry songs we mock the wind 
  That in the pine-top grieves, 
And slumber long and sweetly  35
  On beds of oaken leaves. 
Well knows the fair and friendly moon 
  The band that Marion leads— 
The glitter of their rifles, 
  The scampering of their steeds.  40
'T is life to guide the fiery barb 
  Across the moonlit plain; 
'T is life to feel the night-wind 
  That lifts his tossing mane. 
A moment in the British camp—  45
  A moment—and away 
Back to the pathless forest, 
  Before the peep of day. 
Grave men there are by broad Santee, 
  Grave men with hoary hairs;  50
Their hearts are all with Marion, 
  For Marion are their prayers. 
And lovely ladies greet our band 
  With kindliest welcoming, 
With smiles like those of summer,  55
  And tears like those of spring. 
For them we wear these trusty arms, 
  And lay them down no more 
Till we have driven the Briton, 
  Forever, from our shore.  60

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