Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GUNS IN THE GRASS [MAY 8, 1846], by THOMAS FROST



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THE GUNS IN THE GRASS [MAY 8, 1846], by            
First Line: As hang two mighty thunderclouds
Last Line: We battle -- and the field is won!
Subject(s): Palo Alto, Battle Of (1846); Taylor, Zachary (1784-1850); United States - Mexican War (1846-1848)


As hang two mighty thunderclouds
Ere lightnings link the twain,
So lie we and the Mexican
On Palo Alto plain;
And silence, solemn, dread, profound,
Broods o'er the waiting battle-ground.

We see the foeman's musketeers
Deployed upon his right,
And on his left the cavalry
Stand, hungry for the fight;
But that blank centre -- what? Alas
'T is hidden by the prairie grass!

Old Rough and Ready scans the foe;
"I would I knew," says he,
"Whether or no that lofty grass
Conceals artillery.
Could I but bring that spot in ken,
'T were worth to me five thousand men!"

Then forward steps Lieutenant Blake,
Touches his hat, and says,
"I wait command to ride and see
What 'neath that prairie lays."
We stand amazed: no cowards, we:
But this is more than bravery!

"'Command'!" cries Taylor; "nay, I ne'er
To such a deed 'command!'"
Then bends he o'er his horse's neck
And takes as brave a hand
As e'er a loyal sabre bore:
"God bless you, Blake," he says -- no more.

The soldier to his saddle springs
And gayly waves good-by,
Determination on his lips,
A proud light in his eye:
And then, as pity holds our breath,
We see him dare that road of death.

To utmost pace his steed he spurs.
Save that his sword hangs free,
It were as though a madman charged
A nation's chivalry!
On, on, he flies, his steed unreined
Till yonder hillock's crest is gained.

And now he checks his horse, dismounts,
And coolly through his glass
Surveys the phalanx of the foe
That lies beyond the grass.
A musket-flash! They move! Advance!
Halt! -- 't was the sunlight on a lance!

He turns, remounts, and speeds him back.
Hark! what is that we hear?
Across the rolling prairie rings --
A gun? ah, no -- a cheer!
A noble tribute sweeps the plain:
A thousand throats take up the strain.

Safe! But the secret to unveil
Taylor no longer seeks;
For with a roar that shakes the earth
That unmasked centre speaks!
'Gainst fearful odds, till set of sun,
We battle -- and the field is won!





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