Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHARLESTON, by PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE



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CHARLESTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Calmly beside her tropic strand
Last Line: Pass from the world to glory.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Charleston, South Carolina; United States - History


CALMLY beside her tropic strand,
An empress, brave and loyal,
I see the watchful city stand,
With aspect sternly royal;
She knows her mortal foe draws near,
Armored by subtlest science,
Yet deep, majestical, and clear,
Rings out her grand defiance.
Oh, glorious is thy noble face,
Lit up by proud emotion,
And unsurpassed thy stately grace,
Our warrior Queen of Ocean!

First from thy lips the summons came,
Which roused our South to action,
And, with the quenchless force of flame
Consumed the demon, Faction;
First, like a rush of sovereign wind,
That rends dull waves asunder,
Thy prescient warning struck the blind,
And woke the deaf with thunder;
They saw, with swiftly kindling eyes,
The shameful doom before them,
And heard, borne wild from northern skies,
The death-gale hurtling o'er them:

Wilt thou, whose virgin banner rose,
A morning star of splendor,
Quail when the war-tornado blows,
And crouch in base surrender?
Wilt thou, upon whose loving breast
Our noblest chiefs are sleeping,
Yield thy dead patriots' place of rest
To scornful alien keeping?
No! while a life-pulse throbs for fame,
Thy sons will gather round thee,
Welcome the shot, the steel, the flame,
If honor's hand hath crowned thee.

Then fold about thy beauteous form
The imperial robe thou wearest,
And front with regal port the storm
Thy foe would dream thou fearest;
If strength, and will, and courage fail
To cope with ruthless numbers,
And thou must bend, despairing, pale,
Where thy last hero slumbers,
Lift the red torch, and light the fire
Amid those corpses gory,
And on thy self-made funeral pyre,
Pass from the world to glory.





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