Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PRIZE OF THE MARGARETTA, by WILLIAM MCKENDREE CARLETON



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THE PRIZE OF THE MARGARETTA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Four young men, of a monday morn
Last Line: That men may follow and boys may lead.
Alternate Author Name(s): Carleton, Will
Subject(s): American Revolution; Margaretta (Ship); Navy - United States; Sea Battles; American Navy; Naval Warfare


I

FOUR young men, of a Monday morn,
Heard that the flag of peace was torn;

Heard that "rebels" with sword and gun,
Had fought the British at Lexington,

While they were far from that bloody plain,
Safe on the green-clad shores of Maine.

With eyes that glittered, and hearts that burned,
They talked of the glory their friends had earned,

And asked each other, "What can we do,
So our hands may prove that our hearts are true?"

II

Silent the Margaretta lay,
Out on the bosom of the bay;

On her masts rich bunting gleamed;
Bravely the flag of England streamed.

The young men gazed at the tempting prize --
They wistfully glanced in each other's eyes;

Said one, "We can lower that cloth of dread
And hoist the pine-tree flag instead.

"We are only boys to the old and sage;
We have not yet come to manhood's age;

"But we can show them that, when there's need,
Men may follow and boys may lead."

Tightly each other's hand they pressed,
Loudly they cried, "We will do our best;

"The pine-tree flag, ere day is passed,
Shall float from the Margaretta's mast."

III

They ran to a sloop that lay near by;
They roused their neighbors, with hue and cry;

They doffed their hats, gave three loud cheers,
And called for a crew of volunteers.

Their bold, brave spirit spread far and wide,
And men came running from every side.

Curious armed were the dauntless ones,
With axes, pitchforks, scythes, and guns;

They shouted, "Ere yet this day be passed,
The pine-tree grows from the schooner's mast!"

IV

With sails all set, trim as could be,
The Margaretta stood out to sea.

With every man and boy in place,
The gallant Yankee sloop gave chase.

Rippled and foamed the sunlit seas;
Freshened and sung the soft May breeze;

And came from the sloop's low deck, "Hurray!
We're gaining on her! We'll win the day!"

A sound of thunder, echoing wide,
Came from the Margaretta's side;

A deadly crash, and a loud death-yell,
And one of the brave pursuers fell.

They aimed a gun at the schooner then,
And sent the compliment back again;

He who at the helm of the schooner stood,
Covered the deck with his rich life-blood.

V

Each burning to pay a bloody debt,
The crews of the hostile vessels met;

The Western nation now to be,
Made her first fight upon the sea.

And not till forty men were slain,
Did the pine-tree flag a victory gain;

But at last the hearts of the Britons quailed,
And grandly the patriot arm prevailed.

One of the youths, the deed to crown,
Grasped the colors and pulled them down;

And raised, 'mid cries of wild delight,
The pine-tree flag of blue and white.

And the truth was shown, for the world to read,
That men may follow and boys may lead.





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