Ode--Shell The Old City! Shell!
Shell the old city I shell!
Ye myrmidons of Hell;
Ye serve your master well,
With hellish arts!
Hurl down, with bolt and fire,
The grand old shrines, the spire;
But know, your demon ire
Subdues no hearts!
There, we defy ye still,
With sworn and resolute will;
Courage ye cannot kill
While we have breath!
Stone walls your bolts may break,
But, ere our souls ye shake,
Of the whole land we'll make
One realm of death!
Dear are our homes! our eyes
Weep at their sacrifice;
And, with each bolt that flies,
Each roof that falls,
The pang extorts the tear,
That things so precious, dear
To memory, love, and care,
Sink with our walls.
Trophies of ancient time,
When, with great souls, sublime,
Opposing force and crime,
Our fathers fought;
Relics of golden hours,
When, for our shrines and bowers,
Genius, with magic powers,
Her triumphs wrought!
Each Sabbath-hallowed dome,
Each ancient family home,
The dear old southwest room,
All trellised round;
Where gay, bright summer vines,
Linked in fantastic twines
With the sun's blazing lines,
Rubied the ground!
Homes, sacred to the past,
Which bore the hostile blast,
Though Spain, France, Britain cast
Their shot and shell!
Tombs of the mighty dead,
That in our battles bled,
When on our infant head
These furies fell!
Halls which the foreign guest
Found of each charm possessed,
With cheer unstinted blessed,
And noblest grace;
Where, drawing to her side
The stranger, far and wide,
Frank courtesy took pride
To give him place!
The shaded walks--the bowers
Where, through long summer hours,
Young Love first proved his powers
To win the prize;
Where every tree has heard
Some vows of love preferred,
And, with his leaves unstirred,
Watch'd lips and eyes.
Gardens of tropic blooms,
That, through the shaded rooms,
Sent Orient-winged perfumes
With dusk and dawn;
The grand old laurel, tall,
As sovereign over all,
And, from the porch and hall,
The verdant lawn.
Oh! when we think of these
Old homes, ancestral trees;
Where, in the sun and breeze,
At morn and even,
Was to enjoy the play
Of hearts at holiday,
And find, in blooms of May,
Foretaste of Heaven!
Where, as we cast our eyes
On thing's of precious prize,
Trophies of good and wise,
Grand, noble, brave;
And think of these, so late
Sacred to soul and state,
Doomed, as the wreck of fate,
By fiend and slave!--
The inevitable pain,
Coursing through blood and brain,
Drives forth, like winter rain,
The bitter tear!
We cannot help but weep,
From depth of hearts that keep
The memories, dread and deep.
To vengeance dear!
Aye, for each tear we shed,
There shall be torrents red,
Not from the eye-founts fed,
But from the veins!
Bloody shall be the sweat,
Fiends, felons, that shall yet
Pay retribution's debt,
In torture's pains!
Our tears shall naught abate,
Of what we owe to hate--
To the avenging fate--
To earth and Heaven!
And, soon or late, the hour
Shall bring th' atoning power,
When, through the clouds that lower,
The storm-bolt's driven!
Shell the old city--shell!
But, with each rooftree's knell,
Vows deep of vengeance fell,
Fire soul and eye!
With every tear that falls
Above our stricken walls
Each heart more fiercely calls,
'Avenge, or die!'
Our city by the sea,
As the rebel city known,
With a soul and spirit free
As the waves that make her zone,
Stands in wait for the fate
From the angry arm of hate;
But she nothing fears the terror of his blow;
She hath garrisoned her walls,
And for every son that falls,
She will spread a thousand palls
Old Moultrie at her gate,
Clad in arms and ancient fame.
Grimly watching, stands elate
To deliver bolt and flame!
Brave the band, at command,
To illumine sea and land
With a glory that shall honor days of yore;
And, as racers for their goals,
A thousand fiery souls,
While the drum of battle rolls,
Line the shore.
Lo! rising at his side,
As if emulous to share
His old historic pride,
The vast form of Sumter there!
Girt by waves, which he braves
Though the equinoctial raves,
As the mountain braves the lightning on his steep;
And, like tigers crouching round,
Are the tribute forts that bound
All the consecrated ground,
By the deep!
It was calm, the April noon,
When, in iron-castled towers,
Our haughty foe came on,
With his aggregated powers;
All his might 'gainst the right,
Now embattled for the fight,
With Hell's hate and venom working in his heart;
A vast and dread array,
Glooming black upon the day,
Hell's passions all in play,
With Hell's art.
But they trouble not the souls
Of our Carolina host,
And the drum of battle rolls,
While each hero seeks his post;
Firm, though few, sworn to do,
Their old city full in view,
The brave city of their sires and their dead;
There each freeman had his brood,
All the dear ones of his blood,
And he knew they watching stood,
In their dread!
To the bare embattled height,
Then our gallant colonel sprung--
'Bid them welcome to the fight,'
Were the accents of his tongue--
'Music! band, pour out--grand--
The free song of Dixie Land!
Let it tell them we are joyful that they come!
Bid them welcome, drum and flute,
Nor be your cannon mute,
Give them chivalrous salute--
To their doom!'
Out spoke an eager gun,
From the walls of Moultrie then;
And through clouds of sulph'rous dun,
Rose a shout of thousand men,
As the shot, hissing hot,
Goes in lightning to the spot--
Goes crashing wild through timber and through mail;
Then roared the storm from all,
Moultrie's ports and Sumter's wall--
Bursting bomb and driving ball--
Hell in hail!
Full a hundred cannon roared
The dread welcome to the foe,
And his felon spirit cowered,
As he crouched beneath the blow!
As each side opened wide
To the iron and the tide,
He lost his faith in armor and in art;
And, with the loss of faith,
Came the dread of wounds and scath--
And the felon fear of death
Wrung his heart!
Quenched then his foul desires;
In his mortal pain and fear,
How feeble grew his fires,
How stayed his fell career!
How each keel, made to reel
'Neath our thunder, seems to kneel,
Their turrets staggering wildly, to and fro, blind and lame;
Ironsides and iron roof,
Held no longer bullet-proof,
Steal away, shrink aloof,
In their shame!
But our lightnings follow fast,
With a vengeance sharp and hot;
Our bolts are on the blast,
And they rive with shell and shot!
Huge the form which they warm
With the hot breath of the storm;
Dread the crash which follows as each Titan mass is struck--
They shiver as they fly,
While their leader, drifting nigh,
Sinks, choking with the cry--
To the brave old city, joy!
For that the hostile race,
Commissioned to destroy,
Hath fled in sore disgrace!
That our sons, at their guns,
Have beat back the modern Huns--
Have maintained their household fanes and their fires;
And free from taint and scath,
Have kept the fame and faith
(And will keep, through blood and death)
Of their sires!
To the Lord of Hosts the glory,
For His the arm and might,
That have writ for us the story,
And have borne us through the fight!
His our shield in that field--
Voice that bade us never yield;
Oh! had he not been with us through the terrors of that day?
His strength hath made us strong,
Cheered the right and crushed the wrong,
To His temple let us throng--
PRAISE AND PRAY!
Where dwells the spirit of the Bard--what sky
Persuades his daring wing,--
Folded in soft carnation, or in snow
Still sleeping, far o'er summits of the cloud,
And, with a seeming, sweet unconsciousness,
Wooing his plume, through baffling storms to fly,
Assured of all that ever yet might bless
The spirit, by love and loftiest hope made proud,
Would he but struggle for the dear caress!--
Or would his giant spring,
Impelled by holiest ire,
Assail the sullen summits of the storm,
Bent with broad breast and still impatient form,
Where clouds unfold themselves in leaping fire!
What vision wins his soul,--
What passion wings his flight,--
What dream of conquest woos his eager eye!--
How glows he with the strife,--
How spurns he at control,--
With what unmeasured rage would he defy
The foes that rise around and threaten life!--
His upward flight is fair,
He goes through parting air,
He breaks the barrier cloud, he sees the eye that's there,
The centre of the realm of storm that mocked him but to dare!
And now he grasps the prize,
That on the summit lies,
And binds the burning jewel to his brow;
Transfigured by its bright,
He wears a mightier face,
Nor grovels more in likeness of the earth;--
His wing a bolder flight,
His step a wilder grace,
He glows, the creature of a holier birth;--
Suns sing, and stars glow glad around his light;
And thus he speeds afar,
'Mid gathering sun and star,
The sov'reign, he, of worlds, where these but subjects are;
And men that marked his wing with mocking sight,
Do watch and wonder now;--
Will watch and worship with delight, anon,
When far from hiss and hate, his upward form hath gone!
0h! ere that van was won,
Whose flight hath braved the sun--
Whose daring strength and aim
Have scaled the heights of cloud and bared their breasts of flame;
What lowly toil was done,--
How slow the moments sped,--
How bitter were the pangs that vexed the heart and head!
The burden which he bore,
The thorns his feet that tore,
The cruel wounds he suffered with no moan,--
Alone,--and still alone!--
Denial, which could smile,
Beholding, all the while,
How salter than the sea were the salt tears he shed;
And over all, the curse,
Than all of these more worse.
Prostrate, before the common way, to bear
The feet of hissing things,
Whose toil it is to tear,
And cramp the glorious creature born to wings!
Ah! should he once despair!--
Not lonely, with the sad nymph Solitude,
Deep in the cover of the ancient wood,
Where the sun leaves him, and the happy dawn,
Stealing with blushes over the gray lawn,
Stills finds him, all forgetful of the flight
Of hours, that passing still from dark to bright,
Know not to loiter,--all their progress naught:--
His eye, unconscious of the day, is bright
With inward vision; till, as sudden freed,
By the superior quest of a proud thought,
He darts away with an unmeasured speed;
His pinion purpling as he gains the height,
Where still, though all obscured from mortal sight,
He bathes him in the late smiles of the sun;--
And oh! the glory, as he guides his steed,
Flakes from his pinions falling, as they soar
To mounts where Eos binds her buskins on
And proud Artemis, watching by her well,
For one,---sole fortunate of all his race,--
With hand upon his mouth her beagle stays,
Lest he should baffle sounds too sweet to lose,
That even now are gliding with the dews.
How nobly he arrays
His robes for flight--his robes, the woven of songs,
Borrowed from starry spheres,--with each a muse
That, with her harmonies, maintains its dance
Celestial, and its circles bright prolongs.
Fair ever, but with warrior form and face,
He stands before the eye of each young grace
Beguiling the sweet passion from her cell,
And still subjecting beauty by the glance,
Which speaks his own subjection to a spell.
The eldest born of rapture, that makes Love,
At once submissive and the Conqueror.
He conquers but to bring deliverance,
And with deliverance light;--
To conquer, he has only to explore,--
And makes a permanent empire, but to spread,
Though speeding on with unobserving haste,--
A wing above the waste.
A single feather from his pinion shed,
A single beam of beauty from his eye,
Takes captive of the dim sleeping realm below,
Through eyes of truest worshippers, that straight
Bring shouts to welcome and bright flowers to wreathe
His altars; and, as those, to life from death,
Plucked sudden, in their gratitude and faith
Deem him a god who wrought the miracle,--
So do they take him to their shrines, and vow
Their annual incense of sweet song and smell,
For him to whom their happiness they owe.
Thus goes he still from desert shore to shore,
Where life in darkness droops, where beauty errs,
Having no worshippers,
And lacking sympathy for the light!--The eye
That is the spirit of his wing, no more,
This progress once begun, can cease to soar,
Suffers eclipse, or sleeps!--
No more be furled
The wing,--that, from the first decreed to fly,
Must speed to daily conquests, deep and high,
Till no domain of dark unlighted keeps,
And all the realm of strife beneath the sky
Grows one, in beauty and peace for evermore,--
Soothed to eternal office of delight,
By these that wing the soul on its first flight,
For these are the great spirits that shape the world!