Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MUGFORD'S VICTORY, by JOHN WHITE CHADWICK



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MUGFORD'S VICTORY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Our mother, the pride of us all
Last Line: And who brought him, though dead, to his own!
Subject(s): American Revolution; Mugford, James; Navy - United States; Sea Battles; American Navy; Naval Warfare


OUR mother, the pride of us all,
She sits on her crags by the shore,
And her feet they are wet with the waves
Whose foam is as flowers from the graves
Of her sons whom she welcomes no more,
And who answer no more to her call.

Amid weeds and sea-tangle and shells
They are buried far down in the deep, --
The deep which they loved to career.
Oh, might we awake them from sleep!
Oh, might they our voices but hear,
And the sound of our holiday bells!

Can it be she is thinking of them,
Her face is so proud and so still,
And her lashes are moistened with tears?
Ho, little ones! pluck at her hem,
Her lap with your jollity fill,
And ask of her thoughts and her fears.

"Fears!" -- we have roused her at last;
See! her lips part with a smile,
And laughter breaks forth from her eyes, --
"Fears! whence should they ever arise
In our hearts, O my children, the while
We can remember the past?

"Can remember that morning of May,
When Mugford went forth with his men,
Twenty, and all of them ours.
'T is a hundred years to a day,
And the sea and the shore are as then,
And as bright are the grass and the flowers;
But our twenty -- they come not again!

"He had heard of the terrible need
Of the patriot army there
In Boston town. Now for a deed
To save it from despair!
To thrill with joy the great commander's heart,
And hope new-born to all the land impart!

"Hope! ay; that was the very name
Of the good ship that came
From England far away,
Laden with enginery of death,
Food for the cannon's fiery breath;
Hope-laden for great Washington,
Who, but for her, was quite undone
A hundred years ago to-day.

"'Oh, but to meet her there,
And grapple with her fair,
Out in the open bay!'
Mugford to Glover said.
How could he answer nay?
And Mugford sailed away,
Brave heart and newly wed.

"But what are woman's tears,
And rosy cheeks made pale,
To one who far off hears
The generations hail
A deed like this we celebrate to-day,
A hundred years since Mugford sailed away!

"I love to picture him,
Clear-eyed and strong of limb,
Gazing his last upon the rocky shore
His feet should press no more;
Seeing the tall church-steeples fade away
In distance soft and gray;
So dropping down below the horizon's rim
Where fame awaited him.

"Slow sailing from the east his victim came.
They met; brief parley struggle brief and tame,
And she was ours;
In Boston harbor safe ere set of sun,
Great joy for Washington!
But heavy grew the hours
On Mugford's hands, longing to bring to me
His mother proud, news of his victory;
But that was not to be!

"Abreast Nantasket's narrow strip of gray
The British cruisers lay:
They saw the daring skipper dropping down
From the much-hated rebel-haunted town,
And in the twilight dim
Their boats awaited him,
While wind and tide conspired
To grant what they desired.

"Thickly they swarmed about his tiny craft;
But Mugford gayly laughed
And gave them blow for blow;
And many a hapless foe
Went hurtling down below.
Upon the schooner's rail
Fell, like a thresher's flail,
The strokes that beat the soul and sense apart,
And pistol-crack through many an eager heart
Sent deadly hail.
But when the fight was o'er,
Brave Mugford was no more.
Crying, with death-white lip,
'Boys, don't give up the ship!'
His soul struck out for heaven's peaceful shore.

"We gave him burial meet;
Through every sobbing street
A thousand men marched with their arms reversed;
And Parson Story told,
In sentences of gold,
The tale since then a thousand times rehearsed."

Such is the story she tells,
Our mother, the pride of us all.
Ring out your music, O bells,
That ever such things could befall!
Ring not for Mugford alone,
Ring for the twenty unknown,
Who fought hand-to-hand at his side,
Who saw his last look when he died,
And who brought him, though dead, to his own!





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