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Poem by William Gilmore Simms


Sumter in Ruins


I.

Ye batter down the lion's den,
  But yet the lordly beast g'oes free;
And ye shall hear his roar again,
From mountain height, from lowland glen,
From sandy shore and reedy fen--
Where'er a band of freeborn men
  Rears sacred shrines to liberty.

II.

The serpent scales the eagle's nest,
  And yet the royal bird, in air,
Triumphant wins the mountain's crest,
And sworn for strife, yet takes his rest,
And plumes, to calm, his ruffled breast,
Till, like a storm-bolt from the west,
  He strikes the invader in his lair.

III.

What's loss of den, or nest, or home,
  If, like the lion, free to go;--
If, like the eagle, wing'd to roam,
We span the rock and breast the foam,
Still watchful for the hour of doom,
When, with the knell of thunder-boom,
  We bound upon the serpent foe!

IV.

Oh! noble sons of lion heart!
  Oh! gallant hearts of eagle wing!
What though your batter'd bulwarks part,
Your nest be spoiled by reptile art--
Your souls, on wings of hate, shall start
For vengeance, and with lightning-dart,
  Rend the foul serpent ere he sting!

V.

Your battered den, your shattered nest,
  Was but the lion's crouching-place;--
It heard his roar, and bore his crest,
His, or the eagle's place of rest;--
But not the soul in either breast!
This arms the twain, by freedom bless'd,
  To save and to avenge their race!



William Gilmore Simms


William Gilmore Simms's other poems:
  1. Song in March
  2. Blessings on Children
  3. The Swamp Fox
  4. The Decay of a People
  5. The Lost Pleiad


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