Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DAWN AT LEXINGTON, by KATHARINE LEE BATES



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DAWN AT LEXINGTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A stealthy tramping through the dark
Last Line: Flooding the world with light!
Subject(s): American Revolution; Lexington, Battle Of (1775); Revere, Paul (1735-1818); War; Concord, Battle Of


A stealthy tramping through the dark,
A menace drawing nigh,
But flitting figures peer and hark,
And speed the signal cry:
"The British are coming. Arm!"
A peal from the belfry; then
The throb of drum, the wild alarm,
While from village home and fringing farm
Flock in the minute-men.

Already the parsonage windows glint,
For Paul Revere and Dawes
With hooves of galloping horses dint
The turf, rein up, a pause
Till the warning word is said;
Then for Concord on they race,
While Hancock, a price on his comely head,
And old Sam Adams are quickly led
Through the woods to a hiding-place.

With those rebels hunted from Lexington
Dorothy Quincy ran,
Cheering her lover's plight.

And many gray shadows in those whist hours
Of the waning moon slip through
Dim lanes and across vague fields whose flowers
Slumber beneath their dew,
Till beside the House of Prayer,
Whither one and another runs
For the powder and shot secreted there
In its old slave gallery, stands a fair
Muster of sires and sons.

Captain John Parker, a fowling-piece
On shoulder, aligns that band
Of neighbors, uniformed at caprice
But each in resolute hand
Gripping musket, across the Green,
Seventy-seven to block
The path of four hundred, yet serene
His face, undauntable his mien,
Biding the battle-shock.

In the budding trees of Lexington
The birds their chant began
Before the east was white.

But who may heed the tender call
Of the bluebird? For from out
The windows of those homes so small,
So dear, clustered about
The Green, child-faces peep
Pink as the peachtree sprays
With drowsy wonder, women keep
Watch too intense for eyes to weep,
While love in anguish prays.

Oh, who may hear the robin's trill?
For volleys rend the air.
In his daughter's view Monroe lies still,
Blood on his silver hair.
Jonathan Harrington reels
Toward the door whence his wife has run
Only to clasp him as he feels
Death's closer clasp. And silence seals
Five more ere rise of sun.

Their names are carved in Lexington
For reverent eyes to scan,
The Fallen of the Fight.

With proud huzzas the Redcoats take
The Concord road and leave
The dead who see no morning break
Nor hear their widows grieve;
The wounded, not alone
White patriots, but a slave,
Prince Estabrook of jungle throne,
Who for a freedom not his own
His blood that morning gave.

Daybreak, as if doors of gold
Had been flung wide in Heaven
To welcome from that crimsoned mold
The spirits of those seven,
Our homespun heroes, prone
Mid bruised anemone
And violet on the Common known
Henceforth as holy ground, our own
Valiant Thermopylae.

O dawn that rose on Lexington,
New liberties for man,
Flooding the world with light!





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