Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FOE AT THE GATES, by JOHN DICKSON BRUNS



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FOE AT THE GATES, by            
First Line: Ring round her! Children of her glorious skies
Last Line: The last grand holocaust of liberty.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Charleston, South Carolina; United States - History


RING round her! children of her glorious skies,
Whom she hath nursed to stature proud and great;
Catch one last glance from her imploring eyes,
Then close your ranks and face the threatening fate.

Ring round her! with a wall of horrent steel
Confront the foe, nor mercy ask nor give;
And in her hour of anguish let her feel
That ye can die whom she has taught to live.

Ring round her! swear, by every lifted blade,
To shield from wrong the mother who gave you birth;
That never violent hand on her be laid,
Nor base foot desecrate her hallowed hearth.

Curst be the dastard who shall halt or doubt!
And doubly damned who casts one look behind!
Ye who are men! with unsheathed sword, and shout,
Up with her banner! give it to the wind!

Peal your wild slogan, echoing far and wide,
Till every ringing avenue repeat
The gathering cry, and Ashley's angry tide
Calls to the sea-waves beating round her feet.

Sons, to the rescue! spurred and belted, come!
Kneeling, with clasp'd hands, she invokes you now
By the sweet memories of your childhood's home,
By every manly hope and filial vow,

To save her proud soul from that loathed thrall
Which yet her spirit cannot brook to name;
Or, if her fate be near, and she must fall,
Spare her -- she sues -- the agony and shame.

From all her fanes let solemn bells be tolled;
Heap with kind hands her costly funeral pyre,
And thus, with paean sung and anthem rolled,
Give her unspotted to the God of Fire.

Gather around her sacred ashes then,
Sprinkle the cherished dust with crimson rain,
Die! as becomes a race of free-born men,
Who will not crouch to wear the bondman's chain.

So, dying, ye shall win a high renown,
If not in life, at least by death, set free;
And send her fame through endless ages down --
The last grand holocaust of Liberty.





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