Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
June 3
Eight Volunteers
By Lansing C. Bailey (1864–1923)
EIGHT volunteers! on an errand of death!
  Eight men! Who speaks?
Eight men to go where the cannon’s hot breath
  Burns black the cheeks.
Eight men to man the old Merrimac’s hulk;        5
Eight men to sink the old steamer’s black bulk,
Blockade the channel where Spanish ships skulk,—
  Eight men! Who speaks?
“Eight volunteers!” said the Admiral’s flags!
  Eight men! Who speaks?        10
Who will sail under El Morro’s black crags?—
  Sure death he seeks.
Who is there willing to offer his life?
Willing to march to this music of strife,—
Cannon for drum and torpedo for fife?        15
  Eight men! Who speaks?
Eight volunteers! on an errand of death!
  Eight men! Who speaks?
Was there a man who in fear held his breath?
  With fear-paled cheeks?        20
From ev’ry war-ship ascended a cheer!
From ev’ry sailor’s lips burst the word “Here!”
Four thousand heroes their lives volunteer!
  Eight men! Who speaks?

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