[Footnote 10: The red cross is the British flag.]
But there was one, the Singer
of our crew,
Upon whose head Age waved his peaceful sign,
But whose red heart’s-blood no surrender knew;
And couchant under brows of massive line, 40
The eyes, like guns beneath a parapet,
Watched, charged with lightnings yet.
The voices of the hills did
The torrents flashed and tumbled in his song;
He brought our native fields from far away, 45
Or set us ’mid the innumerable throng
Of dateless woods, or where we heard the calm
Old homestead’s evening psalm.
But now he sang of faith to
Of freedom’s birthright given to us in trust; 50
And words of doughty cheer he spoke between,
That made all earthly fortune seem as dust,
Matched with that duty, old as Time and new,
Of being brave and true.
We, listening, learned what
makes the might of words,— 55
Manhood to back them, constant as a star;
His voice rammed home our cannon, edged our swords,
And sent our boarders shouting; shroud and spar
Heard him and stiffened; the sails heard, and wooed
The winds with loftier mood. 60
In our dark hours he manned
our guns again;
Remanned ourselves from his own manhood’s stores;
Pride, honor, country, throbbed through all his strain:
And shall we praise? God’s praise was his before;
And on our futile laurels he looks down, 65
Himself our bravest crown.
[When Mr. Lowell wrote this poem he was living at Elmwood in Cambridge, at that time quite remote from town influences,—Cambridge itself being scarcely more than a village,—but now rapidly losing its rustic surroundings. The Charles River flowed near by, then a limpid stream, untroubled by factories or sewage. It is a tidal river and not far from Elmwood winds through broad salt marshes. Mr. Longfellow’s old home is a short stroll nearer town, and the two poets exchanged pleasant shots, as may be seen by Lowell’s To H.W.L., and Longfellow’s The Herons of Elmwood. In Under the Willows Mr. Lowell has, as it were, indulged in another reverie at a later period of his life, among the same familiar surroundings.]
visionary tints the year puts on,
When falling leaves falter through motionless air
Or numbly cling and shiver to be gone!
How shimmer the low flats and pastures bare,
As with her nectar Hebe Autumn fills 5
The bowl between me and those distant hills,
And smiles and shakes abroad her misty, tremulous hair!