Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CRUISE OF THE MONITOR [MARCH 9, 1862], by GEORGE M. BAKER



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THE CRUISE OF THE MONITOR [MARCH 9, 1862], by            
First Line: Out of a northern city's bay
Last Line: Hurrah for the monitor's famous cruise!
Subject(s): American Civil War; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Monitor (Ship); Sea Battles; United States - History; Virginia (Ship); Naval Warfare; Merrimac (Ship)


OUT of a Northern city's bay,
'Neath lowering clouds, one bleak March day,
Glided a craft -- the like, I ween,
On ocean's crest was never seen
Since Noah's float, that ancient boat,
Could o'er a conquered deluge gloat.

No raking masts, with clouds of sail,
Bent to the breeze, or braved the gale;
No towering chimney's wreaths of smoke
Betrayed the mighty engine's stroke;
But low and dark, like the crafty shark,
Moved in the waters this novel bark.

The fishers stared as the flitting sprite
Passed their huts in the misty light,
Bearing a turret huge and black,
And said, "The old sea-serpent's back,
Carting away by light of day,
Uncle Sam's fort from New York Bay."

Forth from a Southern city's dock,
Our frigates' strong blockade to mock,
Crept a monster of rugged build,
The work of crafty hands, well skilled --
Old Merrimac, with an iron back
Wooden ships would find hard to crack.

Straight to where the Cumberland lay,
The mail-clad monster made its way;
Its deadly prow struck deep and sure,
And the hero's fighting days were o'er.
Ah! many the braves who found their graves,
With that good ship, beneath the waves!

But with their fate is glory wrought,
Those hearts of oak like heroes fought
With desperate hope to win the day,
And crush the foe that 'fore them lay.
Our flag up run, the last-fired gun,
Tokens how bravely duty was done.

Flushed with success, the victor flew,
Furious, the startled squadron through:
Sinking, burning, driving ashore,
Until that Sabbath day was o'er,
Resting at night to renew the fight
With vengeful ire by morning's light.

Out of its den it burst anew,
When the gray mist the sun broke through,
Steaming to where, in clinging sands,
The frigate Minnesota stands,
A sturdy foe to overthrow,
But in woful plight to receive a blow.

But see! Beneath her bow appears
A champion no danger fears;
A pigmy craft, that seems to be
To this new lord who rules the sea,
Like David of old to Goliath bold --
Youth and giant, by Scripture told.

Round the roaring despot playing,
With willing spirit, helm obeying,
Spurning the iron against it hurled,
While belching turret rapid whirled,
And swift shot's seethe, with smoky wreath,
Told that the shark was showing his teeth --

The Monitor fought. In grim amaze
The Merrimacs upon it gaze,
Cowering 'neath the iron hail,
Crashing into their coat of mail;
They swore "this craft, the devil's shaft,
Looked like a cheese-box on a raft."

Hurrah! little giant of '62!
Bold Worden with his gallant crew
Forces the fight; the day is won;
Back to his den the monster's gone
With crippled claws and broken jaws,
Defeated in a reckless cause.

Hurrah for the master mind that wrought,
With iron hand, this iron thought!
Strength and safety with speed combined,
Ericsson's gift to all mankind;
To curb abuse, and chains to loose,
Hurrah for the Monitor's famous cruise!





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