Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Heroes of the West
By Richard Dabney (1787?–1825)
 
HOW sweet is the song of the festal rite,
  When the bosom with rapture swells high;
When the heart, at the soft touch of pleasure, beats light,
  And bright is the beam of the eye.
In the dirge, that is pour’d o’er affection’s bier,        5
  How holy an interest dwells,
When the frequent drop of the frequent tear,
  The heart-rending anguish tells;
But sweeter the song that the minstrel should raise
  To the patriot victor’s fame,        10
And livelier the tones of the heart-gender’d praise,
  That should wake from the harp at his name:
But holier the dirge that the minstrel should pour
  O’er the fallen hero’s grave,
Whose arm wields the sword for his country no more,        15
  Who has died the death of the brave.
 
There lives in the bosom a feeling sublime;
  Of all, ’t is the strongest tie;
Unvarying through every change of time,
  And only with life does it die.        20
’T is the love that is borne for that lovely land,
  That smiled on the hour of our birth;
’T is the love, that is planted by nature’s hand,
  For our sacred native earth.
’T was this that the patriot victor inspired,        25
  Was strong in the strength of his arm,
With the holiest zeal his brave bosom fired,
  And to danger and death gave a charm.
’T was this that the dying hero blest,
  And hallow’d the hour when he fell,        30
That throbb’d in the final throb of his breast,
  And heaved in his bosom’s last swell:
 
When a thousand swords, in a thousand hands,
  To the sunbeams of heaven shone bright;
When the willing hearts of Columbia’s bands,        35
  Were firm for Columbia’s right;
When the blood of the west, in the battle was pour’d,
  In defence of the rights of the west;
When the blood of the east stain’d the point of the sword,
  At the Eastern king’s behest:        40
Till the angel form of returning peace,
  O’er the plain and the mountain smiled—
Bade the rude blast of war from its ravage to cease,
  And the sweet gale of plenty breathe mild.
She smiled—and the nation’s mighty woes        45
  Ceased to stream from the nation’s eyes;
She smiled—and a fabric of wisdom arose,
  And exalted its fame to the skies.
 
Then firm be its base, as the giant rock
  ’Midst the ocean waves alone,        50
That the beating rain and the tempest shock,
  For numberless years has borne.
And blasted the parricide arm, that shall plan
  That glorious structure’s fall;
But still may it sanction the rights of man,        55
  And liberty guardian to all.
Then sweet be the song that the minstrel should raise,
  To the patriot victor’s fame,
And lively the tones of the heart-gender’d praise,
  That should wake from the harp at his name.        60
Then holy the dirge that the minstrel should pour,
  O’er the fallen hero’s grave,
Whose hand wields the sword for his country no more,
  Who has died the death of the brave.
 
 
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