Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Oliver Wendell Holmes. 1809–1894
 
104. "Qui Vive"
 
"QUI vive!" The sentry's musket rings, 
  The channelled bayonet gleams; 
High o'er him, like a raven's wings 
The broad tri-colored banner flings 
Its shadow, rustling as it swings         5
  Pale in the moonlight beams; 
Pass on! while steel-clad sentries keep 
Their vigil o'er the monarch's sleep, 
  Thy bare, unguarded breast 
Asks not the unbroken, bristling zone  10
That girds yon sceptred trembler's throne;— 
  Pass on, and take thy rest! 
  
"Qui vive!" How oft the midnight air 
  That startling cry has borne! 
How oft the evening breeze has fanned  15
The banner of this haughty land, 
O'er mountain snow and desert sand, 
  Ere yet its folds were torn! 
Through Jena's carnage flying red, 
Or tossing o'er Marengo's dead,  20
  Or curling on the towers 
Where Austria's eagle quivers yet, 
And suns the ruffled plumage, wet 
  With battle's crimson showers! 
  
"Qui vive!" And is the sentry's cry,—  25
  The sleepless soldier's hand,— 
Are these—the painted folds that fly 
And lift their emblems, printed high 
On morning mist and sunset sky— 
  The guardians of a land?  30
No! If the patriot's pulses sleep, 
How vain the watch that hirelings keep,— 
  The idle flag that waves, 
When Conquest, with his iron heel, 
Treads down the standards and the steel  35
  That belt the soil of slaves! 
 
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