Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VICTORY OF PERRY, by ALICE CARY



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THE VICTORY OF PERRY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lift up the years! Lift up the years
Last Line: As well as on the land.
Subject(s): Lake Erie, Battle Of; Perry, Oliver Hazard (1785-1819); War Of 1812


LIFT up the years! lift up the years,
Whose shadows around us spread;
Let us tribute pay to the brave to-day
Who are half a century dead.

Oh, not with tears -- no, not with tears,
The grateful nation comes,
But with flags out-thrown, and bugles blown,
And the martial roll of drums!

Beat up, beat up! till memory glows
And sets our hearts aflame!
Ah, they did well in the fight who fell,
And we leave them to their fame;

Their fame, that larger, grander grows
As time runs into the past,
For the Erie-waves chant over their graves,
And shall, while the world shall last.

O beautiful cities of the Lake,
As ye sit by your peaceful shore,
Make glad and sing till the echoes ring,
For our brave young Commodore!

He knew your stormy oaks to take
And their ribs into ships contrive,
And to set them so fine in battle line,
With their timbers yet alive.

We see our squadron lie in the Bay
Where it lay so long ago,
And hear the cry from the mast-head high,
Three times, and three, "Sail ho!"

Through half a century to-day
We hear the signal of fight --
"Get under way! Get under way!
The enemy is in sight!"

Our hearts leap up -- our pulses thrill,
As the boatswains' pipes of joy
So loudly play o'er the dash o' the spray,
"All hands up anchor ahoy!"

Now all is still, aye, deathly still;
The enemy's guns are in view!
"To the royal fore!" cries the Commodore,
And up run the lilies and blue.

And hark to the cry, the great glad cry, --
All a-tremble the squadron stands --
From lip to lip, "Don't give up the ship!"
And then "To quarters, all hands!"

An hour, an awful hour drags by --
There's a shot from the enemy's gun!
"More sail! More sail! Let the canister hail!"
Cries Perry, and forward, as one,

Caledonia, Lawrence, and Scorpion, all
Bear down and stand fast, till the flood
Away from their track sends the scared billows back
With their faces bedabbled in blood.

The Queen and her allies their broad-sides let fall --
Oh, the Lawrence is riddled with storms --
Where is Perry? afloat! he is safe in his boat,
And his battle-flag up in his arms!

The bullets they hiss and the English-men shout --
Oh, the Lawrence is sinking, a wreck --
But with flag yet a-swing like a great bloody wing
Perry treads the Niagara's deck!

With a wave of his hand he has wheeled her about --
Oh, the nation is holding its breath --
Headforemost he goes in the midst of his foes
And breaks them and rakes them to death!

And lo, the enemy, after the fray,
On the deck that his dead have lined,
With his sword-hilt before to our Commodore,
And his war-dogs in leash behind!

And well, the nation does well to-day,
Setting her bugles to blow,
And her drums to beat for the glorious fleet
That humbled her haughty foe.

Ah, well to come with her autumn flowers,
A tribute for the brave
Who died to make our Erie Lake
Echo through every wave --

"We've met the enemy and they're ours!"
And who died, that we might stand,
A country free and mistress at Sea
As well as on the Land.





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