Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Lafayette
By Daniel Bryan (1795–1866)
 
“AND 1 this,” he exclaims, “is the country whose charms
  A tyrant’s rude fetter would mangle and mar!
Where the war-demon howls forth his chilling alarms,
  And the death-vulture hangs o’er his slaughtering car!
Columbia! a pilgrim approaches thy shrine,        5
  The offerings he brings are his sword and his blood!
O! make him thy champion—his life shall be thine!
  He seeks this high honor o’er ocean’s dark flood.”
 
Lo! the beautiful wood-nymph of freedom appears!
  Wreaths of blooming magnolia her forehead entwine,        10
Around her an evergreen mantle she wears,
  And her eyes with effusions of tenderness shine:
Majestic and mild, the young Hero she meets,
  And accepts his devotion with smiles of delight;
His heart to her wishes responsively beats,        15
  And she points where her votaries sustain the dread fight.
 
Entranced by her blessing and holy embrace,
  His soul is uplifted on pinions of flame,
And, as flies the swift steed in the emulous race,
  He rushes to battle, to conquest, and fame.—        20
Where danger and carnage bestride the red plain,
  And death’s giant arm, through the dark thundering clouds,
Drives his broad lance and piles up his mountains of slain,
  The whirlwind of conflict our hero enshrouds!
*      *      *      *      *
Descending through ether on pinions of snow,        25
  The angel of peace to our country returns,
Stripes the concave of blue with the dyes of her bow,
  And enshrines here in separate and beautiful urns,
The dust of the warriors who fell on our plains—
  Each nation’s apart—yet in nearness arranged—        30
And her olive tree planting to shade the remains—
  Bids it flourish and bloom there through ages unchanged.
 
She waves her white flag, and two figures advance—
  The elder ’s a matron commanding and proud in her port—
But she meets with confusion the maiden’s sweet glance,        35
  And her cheek seems of varied passions the sport:—
Her head wears a crown—but its splendor is dim—
  For its richest and loveliest jewel is gone!
On her arm hangs a banner whose emblem, so grim,
  And so couchant, was lately the pride of a throne.—        40
 
But now her bold lion is humbled and lorn—
  And where laurel and sea-weed once form’d his proud lair,
He is stretch’d on a bed that ’s dismantled and torn,
  And his eye is despoil’d of its conquering glare.
The younger—though stately—is modest of mien,        45
  And we know by her costume and aspect benign,
That in her loved presence before we have been,
  And that she is liberty’s guardian divine!
 
Note 1. Bryan is a native of Virginia, and has been a senator in the legislature of that state. He is, we understand, at present Post Master at Georgetown, D. C. He wrote The Mountain Muse, published some years since, and has been more recently known as the author of The Lay of Gratitude, a volume of verses on the reception of Lafayette, and The Appeal for suffering Genius, written to obtain charity for the “Boston Bard.” [back]
 
 
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