Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Bell of the Revolution
By William Bingham Tappan (1794–1849)
 
          On the old State-House bell, in Philadelphia, which was cast in that city, several years before the American Revolution, is the following prophetic inscription: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”—Leviticus xxv. 10. The ringing of this bell gave the first intelligence of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

’TWAS fitting, that, throughout the land,
  The anointed bell proclaim
The triumphs of a glorious band,
  And their invaders’ shame:
’Twas fitting, that its merry peal        5
  Should fling out silver tones,
That did, before, the WORD reveal
  So terrible to thrones.
 
Talk not of chance! the word that went
  To Israel’s tribes of yore,        10
Free as the winds of heaven, was sent
  To this far western shore:
Our fathers spake it in distress—
  A small and feeble flock—
They hymn’d it in the wilderness,        15
  And wrote it on the rock.
 
Talk not of chance! for well he knew—
  The founder—that his art
Graved only here the impress true,
  Already on the heart:        20
And he well deem’d that liberty
  Should one day wake the sword:
Around the hearths of all the free,
  It was a cherish’d word,
 
Known, not in vain imaginings,        25
  To wake up idle strife;
But treasured as a holy thing,
  Dearer to heart than life.
Marvel not, then, the voice thus pent
  Within the conscious breast,        30
At times, through some unguarded vent
  Should rush forth unrepress’d.
 
Interpreted, it truly told
  Of high oppression’s knell;
Of banners beckoning, garments roll’d        35
  In blood—that warning bell!
Yes, also, that from martyr graves
  Columbia’s living seed
Should spring—the scourge of sceptred slaves,
  The bulwark of her need.        40
 
Talk not of chance! Not only here
  Forth goes the unerring sound:—
It stirs another hemisphere,
  A world shall be unbound!
And children, rescued from the yoke,        45
  Shall to their children tell
Of the immortal deed that woke
  The Revolution’s bell.
 
 
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