Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CHURCH OF THE REVOLUTION, by HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CHURCH OF THE REVOLUTION, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Loud through the still november air
Last Line: Long may it stand!
Subject(s): Boston Fire (1872); Old South Church, Boston

"The Old South stands."

LOUD through the still November air
The clang and clash of fire-bells broke;
From street to street, from square to square,
Rolled sheets of flame and clouds of smoke.
The marble structures reeled and fell,
The iron pillars bowed like lead;
But one lone spire rang on its bell
Above the flames. Men passed, and said,
"The Old South stands!"

The gold moon, 'gainst a copper sky,
Hung like a portent in the air,
The midnight came, the wind rose high,
And men stood speechless in despair.
But, as the marble columns broke,
And wider grew the chasm red, --
A seething gulf of flame and smoke, --
The firemen marked the spire and said,
"The Old South stands!"

Beyond the harbor, calm and fair,
The sun came up through bars of gold,
Then faded in a wannish glare,
As flame and smoke still upward rolled.
The princely structures, crowned with art,
Where Commerce laid her treasures bare;
The haunts of trade, the common mart,
All vanished in the withering air, --
"The Old South stands!"

"The Old South must be levelled soon
To check the flames and save the street;
Bring fuse and powder." But at noon
The ancient fane still stood complete.
The mitred flame had lipped the spire,
The smoke its blackness o'er it cast;
Then, hero-like, men fought the fire,
And from each lip the watchword passed, --
"The Old South stands!'

All night the red sea round it rolled,
And o'er it fell the fiery rain:
And, as each hour the old clock told,
Men said, "'T will never strike again!"
But still the dial-plate at morn
Was crimsoned in the rising light.
Long may it redden with the dawn,
And mark the shading hours of night!
Long may it stand!

Long may it stand! where help was sought
In weak and dark and doubtful days;
Where freedom's lessons first were taught,
And prayers of faith were turned to praise
Where burned the first Shekinah's flame
In God's new temples of the free;
Long may it stand, in freedom's name,
Like Israel's pillar by the sea!
Long may it stand!

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