Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Harp of Battle
By Charles J. Locke
 
STRIKE the harp! strike the harp! let the soft-toned lute
      Be still in these halls tonight;
Its mellowing cadence shall now be mute;—
And cease to breathe on that silvery flute;—
      It gives me no more delight;        5
For my soul is mad with ambition and care,
And I cannot list to a plaintive air.
 
Strike the harp! strike the harp! let its swelling tones
      Rise full on the midnight damp;
Strike the rage of the battle, the dying moans,        10
That mingle so wild with the frighten’d groans
      And shrieks of a slaughtering camp,
And sound me the guns and the clash of arms
And all the fierce horrors of war’s alarms.
 
I hear it—I see it—the warriors in strife        15
      Are thick in the struggling fight;
And madly they rush to the field where life
Is thrown to the wind, but where glory is rife
      On its smoke and its bloody light.
And he with the white plume is snatching the wreath        20
From the blackening brow of his foe in death.
 
See, he flies to the onset; again and again;—
      Hark! his shout o’er the fallen foe,
Oh! God, he has shouted, and fought in vain,
For, stretch’d by a mightier hand on the plain        25
      He lies in his life-blood low;—
His friends quail around him—“ye dastards fly not,
But give me the brand that his hand has forgot.”
 
“Fly not, ye base cowards, come quick to the fight,”
      They turn to the battle again.        30
“Now strike home for vengeance—spare not in your might
The faithless invaders”—they ’re routed in flight—
      The red earth is strown with the slain—
List, list to the shrieking—’t is fainter—all ’s o’er—
The harp-tone hath ceased and the battle ’s no more.        35
 
 
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