Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BUNKER HILL, by GEORGE HENRY CALVERT



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BUNKER HILL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Not yet, not yet; steady, steady!
Last Line: His steed he spurred, in haste to lead such noble men.
Subject(s): American Revolution; Bunker Hill, Battle Of


"NOT yet, not yet; steady, steady!"
On came the foe, in even line:
Nearer and nearer to thrice paces nine.
We looked into their eyes. "Ready!"
A sheet of flame! A roll of death!
They fell by scores; we held our breath!
Then nearer still they came;
Another sheet of flame!
And brave men fled who never fled before.
Immortal fight!
Foreshadowing flight
Back to the astounded shore.

Quickly they rallied, reinforced.
Mid louder roar of ship's artillery,
And bursting bombs and whistling musketry
And shouts and groans, anear, afar,
All the new din of dreadful war,
Through their broad bosoms calmly coursed
The blood of those stout farmers, aiming
For freedom, manhood's birthrights claiming.
Onward once more they came;
Another sheet of deathful flame!
Another and another still:
They broke, they fled:
Again they sped
Down the green, bloody hill.

Howe, Burgoyne, Clinton, Gage,
Stormed with commander's rage,
Into each emptied barge
They crowd fresh men for a new charge
Up that great hill.
Again their gallant blood we spill:
That volley was the last:
Our powder failed.
On three sides fast
The foe pressed in; nor quailed
A man. Their barrels empty, with musket-stocks
They fought, and gave death-dealing knocks,
Till Prescott ordered the retreat.
Then Warren fell; and through a leaden sleet.
From Bunker Hill and Breed,
Stark, Putnam, Pomeroy, Knowlton, Read,
Led off the remnant of those heroes true,
The foe too shattered to pursue.
The ground they gained; but we
The victory.

The tidings of that chosen band
Flowed in a wave of power
Over the shaken, anxious land,
To men, to man, a sudden dower.
From that stanch, beaming hour
History took a fresh higher start;
And when the speeding messenger, that bare
The news that strengthened every heart,
Met near the Delaware
Riding to take command,
The leader, who had just been named,
Who was to be so famed,
The steadfast, earnest Washington
With hand uplifted cries,
His great soul flashing to his eyes,
"Our liberties are safe; the cause is won."
A thankful look he cast to heaven, and then
His steed he spurred, in haste to lead such noble men.





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