William Gilmore Simms
Ode-- Poem by William Gilmore Simms
Our city by the sea,
As the rebel city known,
With a soul and spirit free
As the waves that make her zone,
Stands in wait for the fate
From the angry arm of hate;
But she nothing fears the terror of his blow;
She hath garrisoned her walls,
And for every son that falls,
She will spread a thousand palls
Old Moultrie at her gate,
Clad in arms and ancient fame.
Grimly watching, stands elate
To deliver bolt and flame!
Brave the band, at command,
To illumine sea and land
With a glory that shall honor days of yore;
And, as racers for their goals,
A thousand fiery souls,
While the drum of battle rolls,
Line the shore.
Lo! rising at his side,
As if emulous to share
His old historic pride,
The vast form of Sumter there!
Girt by waves, which he braves
Though the equinoctial raves,
As the mountain braves the lightning on his steep;
And, like tigers crouching round,
Are the tribute forts that bound
All the consecrated ground,
By the deep!
It was calm, the April noon,
When, in iron-castled towers,
Our haughty foe came on,
With his aggregated powers;
All his might 'gainst the right,
Now embattled for the fight,
With Hell's hate and venom working in his heart;
A vast and dread array,
Glooming black upon the day,
Hell's passions all in play,
With Hell's art.
But they trouble not the souls
Of our Carolina host,
And the drum of battle rolls,
While each hero seeks his post;
Firm, though few, sworn to do,
Their old city full in view,
The brave city of their sires and their dead;
There each freeman had his brood,
All the dear ones of his blood,
And he knew they watching stood,
In their dread!
To the bare embattled height,
Then our gallant colonel sprung--
'Bid them welcome to the fight,'
Were the accents of his tongue--
'Music! band, pour out--grand--
The free song of Dixie Land!
Let it tell them we are joyful that they come!
Bid them welcome, drum and flute,
Nor be your cannon mute,
Give them chivalrous salute--
To their doom!'
Out spoke an eager gun,
From the walls of Moultrie then;
And through clouds of sulph'rous dun,
Rose a shout of thousand men,
As the shot, hissing hot,
Goes in lightning to the spot--
Goes crashing wild through timber and through mail;
Then roared the storm from all,
Moultrie's ports and Sumter's wall--
Bursting bomb and driving ball--
Hell in hail!
Full a hundred cannon roared
The dread welcome to the foe,
And his felon spirit cowered,
As he crouched beneath the blow!
As each side opened wide
To the iron and the tide,
He lost his faith in armor and in art;
And, with the loss of faith,
Came the dread of wounds and scath--
And the felon fear of death
Wrung his heart!
Quenched then his foul desires;
In his mortal pain and fear,
How feeble grew his fires,
How stayed his fell career!
How each keel, made to reel
'Neath our thunder, seems to kneel,
Their turrets staggering wildly, to and fro, blind and lame;
Ironsides and iron roof,
Held no longer bullet-proof,
Steal away, shrink aloof,
In their shame!
But our lightnings follow fast,
With a vengeance sharp and hot;
Our bolts are on the blast,
And they rive with shell and shot!
Huge the form which they warm
With the hot breath of the storm;
Dread the crash which follows as each Titan mass is struck--
They shiver as they fly,
While their leader, drifting nigh,
Sinks, choking with the cry--
To the brave old city, joy!
For that the hostile race,
Commissioned to destroy,
Hath fled in sore disgrace!
That our sons, at their guns,
Have beat back the modern Huns--
Have maintained their household fanes and their fires;
And free from taint and scath,
Have kept the fame and faith
(And will keep, through blood and death)
Of their sires!
To the Lord of Hosts the glory,
For His the arm and might,
That have writ for us the story,
And have borne us through the fight!
His our shield in that field--
Voice that bade us never yield;
Oh! had he not been with us through the terrors of that day?
His strength hath made us strong,
Cheered the right and crushed the wrong,
To His temple let us throng--
PRAISE AND PRAY!
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