Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
Oliver Wendell Holmes. 1809–1894
97. Lexington
SLOWLY the mist o'er the meadow was creeping, 
  Bright on the dewy buds glistened the sun, 
When from his couch, while his children were sleeping, 
  Rose the bold rebel and shouldered his gun. 
      Waving her golden veil         5
      Over the silent dale, 
Blithe looked the morning on cottage and spire; 
      Hushed was his parting sigh, 
      While from his noble eye 
Flashed the last sparkle of liberty's fire.  10
On the smooth green where the fresh leaf is springing 
  Calmly the first-born of glory have met; 
Hark! the death-volley around them is ringing! 
  Look! with their life-blood the young grass is wet! 
      Faint is the feeble breath,  15
      Murmuring low in death, 
"Tell to our sons how their fathers have died"; 
      Nerveless the iron hand, 
      Raised for its native land, 
Lies by the weapon that gleams at its side.  20
Over the hillsides the wild knell is tolling, 
  From their far hamlets the yeomanry come; 
As through the storm-clouds the thunder-burst rolling, 
  Circles the beat of the mustering drum. 
      Fast on the soldier's path  25
      Darken the waves of wrath, 
Long have they gathered and loud shall they fall; 
      Red glares the musket's flash, 
      Sharp rings the rifle's crash, 
Blazing and clanging from thicket and wall.  30
Gayly the plume of the horseman was dancing, 
  Never to shadow his cold brow again; 
Proudly at morning the war-steed was prancing, 
  Reeking and panting be droops on the rein; 
      Pale is the lip of scorn,  35
      Voiceless the trumpet horn, 
Torn is the silken-fringed red cross on high; 
      Many a belted breast 
      Low on the turf shall rest, 
Ere the dark hunters the herd have passed by.  40
Snow-girdled crags where the hoarse wind is raving, 
  Rocks where the weary floods murmur and wail, 
Wilds where the fern by the furrow is waving, 
  Reeled with the echoes that rode on the gale; 
      Far as the tempest thrills  45
      Over the darkened hills, 
Far as the sunshine streams over the plain, 
      Roused by the tyrant band, 
      Woke all the mighty land, 
Girded for battle, from mountain to main.  50
Green be the graves where her martyrs are lying! 
  Shroudless and tombless they sunk to their rest,— 
While o'er their ashes the starry fold flying 
  Wraps the proud eagle they roused from his nest. 
      Borne on her Northern pine,  55
      Long o'er the foaming brine 
Spread her broad banner to storm and to sun; 
      Heaven keep her ever free 
      Wide as o'er land and sea 
Floats the fair emblem her heroes have won!  60

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