Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
March 19
Battle-Song of the Oregon
By Wallace Rice (1859–1939)
 
THE BILLOWY headlands swiftly fly
  The crested path I keep,
My ribboned smoke stains many a sky,
  My embers dye the deep;
A continent has hardly space—        5
  Mid-ocean little more,
Wherein to trace my eager race
  While clang the alarums of war.
 
I come, the warship Oregon,
  My wake a whitening world,        10
My cannon shotted, thundering on
  With battle-flags unfurled.
My land knows no successful foe
  Behold, to sink or save,
From stoker’s flame to gunner’s aim        15
  The race that rules the wave!
 
A nation’s prayers my bulwark are
  Though ne’er so wild the sea;
Flow time or tide, come storm or star,
  Throbs my machinery.        20
Lands Spain has lost forever peer
  From every lengthening coast,
Till rings the cheer that proves me near
  The flag of Columbia’s host.
 
Defiantly I have held my way        25
  From the vigorous shore where Drake
Dreamed a New Albion in the day
  He left New Spain a-quake;
His shining course retraced, I fight
  The self-same foe he fought,        30
All earth to light with signs of might
  Which God our Captain wrought.
 
Made mad, from Santiago’s mouth
  Spain’s ships-of-battle dart:
My bulk comes broadening from the south,        35
  A hurricane at heart;
Its desperate armories blaze and boom,
  Its ardent engines beat;
And fiery doom finds root and bloom
  Aboard of the Spanish fleet….        40
 
The hundredweight of the Golden Hind
  With me are ponderous tons,
The ordnance great her deck that lined
  Would feed my ravening guns,
Her spacious reach in months and years        45
  I’ve shrunk to nights and days;
Yet in my ears are ringing cheers
  Sir Frank himself would raise;
 
For conquereth not mine engines’ breath
  Nor sides steel-clad and strong,        50
Nor bulk, nor rifles red with death:
  To Spain, too, these belong;
What made that old Armada break
  This newer victory won:
Jehovah spake by the sons of Drake        55
  At each incessant gun.
 
I come, the warship Oregon,
  My wake a whitening world,
My cannon shotted, thundering on
  With battle-flags unfurled.        60
My land knows no successful foe
  Behold, to sink or save,
From stoker’s flame to gunner’s aim
  The race that rules the wave!
 
 
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