The Flag of the Free
'Tis the streamer of England - it floats o'er the brave-
'Tis the fairest unfurled o'er the land or the wave;
But though brightest in story and matchless in fight,
'Tis the heralds of Mercy as well as of Might.
In the cause of the wronged may it ever be first-
When tyrants are humbled and fetters are burst:
Be 'Justice' the war-shout, and dastard is he
Who would scruple to die 'neath the Flag of the Free!
It may trail o'er the halyards-a bullet-torn rag,
Or flutter in shreds from the battlement-crag;
Let the shot whistle through it as fast as it may,
Till it sweep the last glorious tatter away.
What matter! we'd hoist the blue jacket on high
Or the soldier's red sash from the spearhead should fly:
Though it were but a riband, the foeman should see
The proud signal and own it-the Flag of the Free!
Have we ever looked out from a far foreign shore,
To mark the gay pennon each passing ship bore;
And watch'd every speck that arose from the foam,
In hope of glad tidings from country and home?-
Has our straining eye caught the loved colours at last.
And seen the dear bark bounding on to us fast?
Then, then have our hearts learnt how precious can be
The fair streamer of England-the Flag of the Free!
Eliza Cook's Other Poems
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