Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
Old Ironsides
By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
[Born in Cambridge, Mass., 1809. Died at Boston, Mass., 1894. From Poetical Works. Household Edition. 1887.]

AY, tear her tattered ensign down!
    Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
    That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,        5
    And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
    Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
    Where knelt the vanquished foe,        10
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
    And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
    Or know the conquered knee;—
The harpies of the shore shall pluck        15
    The eagle of the sea!
O better that her shattered hulk
    Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
    And there should be her grave;        20
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
    Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
    The lightning and the gale!


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