Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A RAID OF THE NEUTRAL GROUND, by ARTHUR GUITERMAN



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A RAID OF THE NEUTRAL GROUND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Up! Bully boys of the nepperhan!'
Last Line: Peace rules the vale of the nepperhan.
Subject(s): New York City - Revolutionary Period; Soldiers; War


"Up! bully boys of the Nepperhan!
Gather! ye troopers, grim and rough;
Ye of the hardy homespun clan,
Ye who have trained in the Blue and Buff.
Come from the Highlands, grandly free,
Barring the stream to the baffled foe;
Come from your farms by the Tappan Zee,
Come from the Vale of Pocantico!"
Dark of the moon; and shadows deep
Curtain the road on field and ridge;
Laggardly watch the redcoats keep,
Calling the word at Dyckman's Bridge.

Down in a dell by the Sawmill ford
Fourscore men to the muster throng;
Scarred are some by the British sword,
Scarred are some by the deeper wrong:
Murdoch -- he of the Monmouth fray;
Dircksen, wreck of a massive bulk,
One of the hundreds racked away,
Starved in the Jersey's prison hulk;
Dyckman, breathing his dead boy's name;
Young, God knoweth, a vengeful man,
Brooding and dark since the Tory flame
Blackened his home by the Nepperhan.
Oh, give and take is the way of war,
And of cloven helmets our own swords tell;
But the turncoat curs of the Tory corps
We hate as we hate the gates of hell.

Only the beaver, sunk from view,
Watched us pass with a furtive eye;
Only the owl of Mosholu
Challenged us as we skirted by;
Only the stars, through a drift of gray
Silently beckoning, led us straight
There where De Lancey's Tories lay
Under the guns of Number Eight.

"Brands!" And the bridge upon Haarlem's breast
Melts in a broken chain of fire;
Every hut has a flaming crest,
Every shack is a blazing pyre.
Blundering out to the lurid night
Rally the shreds of the hated corps;
Speak to them! gun of the Trenton fight,
Bell-muzzled piece of the Indian War!
Reavers and harriers, each and all,
Traitors with blood of their country wet --
Ply them with rifle and musket-ball!
At them with saber and bayonet!

Loosen the horses! Burn the hay!
Kill whom ye must and take whom ye can,
For the Yagers are up on the King's Bridge Way.
So it's back! through the Valley of Nepperhan!
Three miles up through the well-known glade,
Helmeted Yagers hard on our track,
Laughing, we turned at our ambuscade,
Hurling the Hessians staggering back.

Dark were our deeds of the steel and brand?
Aye. But they wearied a stubborn foe,
Held him at bay, while our leader planned,
Cautious and wise, for the final blow.
Judge us fairly, if judge ye may;
Freed is our country of hostile ban;
Redcoat and Hessian have had their day;
Peace rules the Vale of the Nepperhan.





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