Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A BATTLE BALLAD TO GENERAL J.E. JOHNSTON, by FRANCIS ORRERY TICKNOR



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A BATTLE BALLAD TO GENERAL J.E. JOHNSTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A summer sunday morning
Last Line: The life-blood of the brave.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Bull Run, Battles Of; Johnston, Joseph E. (1807-1891); United States - History; Manassas, Batlle Of


A SUMMER Sunday morning,
July the twenty-first,
In eighteen hundred sixty-one,
The storm of battle burst.

For many a year the thunder
Had muttered deep and low,
And many a year, through hope and fear,
The storm had gathered slow.

Now hope had fled the hopeful,
And fear was with the past;
And on Manassas' cornfields
The tempest broke at last.

A wreath above the pine-tops,
The booming of a gun;
A ripple on the cornfields,
And the battle was begun.

A feint upon our centre,
While the foeman massed his might,
For our swift and sure destruction,
With his overwhelming "right."

All the summer air was darkened
With the tramping of their host:
All the Sunday stillness broken
By the clamor of their boast.

With their lips of savage shouting
And their eyes of sullen wrath,
Goliath, with the weaver-beam,
The champion of Gath.

Are they men who guard the passes,
On our "left" so far away?
In the cornfields, O Manassas!
Are they men who fought to-day?

Our boys are brave and gentle,
And their brows are smooth and white
Have they grown to men, Manassas,
In the watches of a night?

Beyond the grassy hillocks
There are tents that glimmer white:
Beneath the leafy covert
There is steel that glistens bright.

There are eyes of watchful reapers
Beneath the summer leaves,
With a glitter as of sickles
Impatient for the sheaves.

They are men who guard the passes,
They are men who bar the ford;
Stands our David at Manassas,
The champion of the Lord.

They are men who guard our altars,
And beware, ye sons of Gath,
The deep and dreadful silence
Of the lion in your path.

Lo! the foe was mad for slaughter,
And the whirlwind hurtled on;
But our boys had grown to heroes,
They were lions, every one.

And they stood a wall of iron,
And they shone a wall of flame,
And they beat the baffled tempest
To the caverns whence it came.

And Manassas' sun descended
On their armies crushed and torn
On a battle bravely ended,
On a nation grandly born.

The laurel and the cypress,
The glory and the grave,
We pledge to thee, O Liberty!
The life-blood of the brave.





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