Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BOY BRITTAN [FEBRUARY 8, 1862], by BYRON FORCEYTHE WILLSON



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BOY BRITTAN [FEBRUARY 8, 1862], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Boy brittan - only a lad a fair-haired boy - sixteen
Last Line: "my darling, thou shalt rest!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Willson, Forceythe
Subject(s): American Civil War; Death; Fort Henry, Battle Of (1862); Sailing & Sailors; United States - History; Dead, The; Seamen; Sails


I

BOY BRITTAN -- only a lad -- a fair-haired boy -- sixteen,
In his uniform,
Into the storm -- into the roaring jaws of grim Fort Henry --
Boldly bears the Federal flotilla --
Into the battle storm!

II

Boy Brittan is master's mate aboard of the Essex --
There he stands, buoyant and eager-eyed,
By the brave captain's side;
Ready to do and dare. Aye, aye, sir! always ready --
In his country's uniform.
Boom! Boom! and now the flag-boat sweeps, and now the Essex,
Into the battle storm!

III

Boom! Boom! till river and fort and field are overclouded
By battle's breath; then from the fort a gleam
And a crashing gun, and the Essex is wrapt and shrouded
In a scalding cloud of steam!

IV

But victory! victory!
Unto God all praise be ever rendered,
Unto God all praise and glory be!
See, Boy Brittan! see, boy, see!
They strike! Hurrah! the fort has just surrendered!
Shout! Shout! my boy, my warrior boy!
And wave your cap and clap your hands for joy!
Cheer answer cheer and bear the cheer about --
Hurrah! Hurrah! for the fiery fort is ours;
And "Victory!" "Victory!" "Victory!"
Is the shout.
Shout -- for the fiery fort, and the field, and the day are ours --
The day is ours -- thanks to the brave endeavor
Of heroes, boy, like thee!
The day is ours -- the day is ours!
Glory and deathless love to all who shared with thee,
And bravely endured and dared with thee --
The day is ours -- the day is ours --
Forever!
Glory and Love for one and all; but -- but -- for thee --
Home! Home! a happy "Welcome -- welcome home" for thee!
And kisses of love for thee --
And a mother's happy, happy tears, and a virgin's bridal
wreath of flowers --
For thee!

V

But suddenly wrecked and wrapt in seething steam, the Essex
Slowly drifted out of the battle's storm;
Slowly, slowly down -- laden with the dead and the dying;
And there, at the captain's feet, among the dead and the dying,
The shot-marred form of a beautiful boy is lying --
There in his uniform!

VI

Laurels and tears for thee, boy,
Laurels and tears for thee!
Laurels of light, moist with the precious dew
Of the inmost heart of the nation's loving heart,
And blest by the balmy breath of the beautiful and the true;
Moist -- moist with the luminous breath of the singing spheres
And the nation's starry tears!
And tremble-touched by the pulse-like gush and start
Of the universal music of the heart,
And all deep sympathy.
Laurels and tears for thee, boy.
Laurels and tears for thee --
Laurels of light and tears of love forever more --
For thee!

VII

And laurels of light, and tears of truth,
And the mantle of immortality;
And the flowers of love and of immortal youth,
And the tender heart-tokens of all true ruth --
And the everlasting victory!
And the breath and bliss of Liberty;
And the loving kiss of Liberty;
And the welcoming light of heavenly eyes,
And the over-calm of God's canopy;
And the infinite love-span of the skies
That cover the valleys of Paradise --
For all of the brave who rest with thee;
And for one and all who died with thee,
And now sleep side by side with thee;
And for every one who lives and dies,
On the solid land or the heaving sea,
Dear warrior-boy -- like thee.

VIII

O the victory -- the victory
Belongs to thee!
God ever keeps the brightest crown for such as thou --
He gives it now to thee!
O young and brave, and early and thrice blest --
Thrice, thrice, thrice blest!
Thy country turns once more to kiss thy youthful brow,
And takes thee -- gently -- gently to her breast;
And whispers lovingly, "God bless thee -- bless thee now --
My darling, thou shalt rest!"





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