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Poem by James Gates Percival

Perry's Victory on Lake Erie

Bright was the morn,Чthe waveless bay
Shone like a mirror to the sun;
'Mid greenwood shades and meadows gay,
The matin birds their lays begun:
While swelling o'er the gloomy wood
Was heard the faintly-echoed roar,Ч
The dashing of the foaming flood,
That beat on Erie's distant shore.

The tawny wanderer of the wild
Paddled his painted birch canoe,
And, where the wave serenely smiled,
Swift as the darting falcon, flew;
He rowed along that peaceful bay,
And glanced its polished surface o'er,
Listening the billow far away,
That rolled on Erie's lonely shore.

What sounds awake my slumbering ear,
What echoes o'er the waters come?
It is the morning gun I hear,
The rolling of the distant drum.
Far o'er the bright illumined wave
I mark the flash,ЧI hear the roar,
That calls from sleep the slumbering brave,
To fight on Erie's lonely shore.

See how the starry banner floats,
And sparkles in the morning ray:
While sweetly swell the fife's gay notes
In echoes o'er the gleaming bay:
Flash follows flash, as through yon fleet
Columbia's cannons loudly roar,
And valiant tars the battle greet,
That storms on Erie's echoing shore.

O, who can tell what deeds were done,
When Britain's cross, on yonder wave,
Sunk 'neath Columbia's dazzling sun,
And met in Erie's flood its grave?
Who tell the triumphs of that day,
When, smiling at the cannon's roar,
Our hero, 'mid the bloody fray,
Conquered on Erie's echoing shore.

Though many a wounded bosom bleeds
For sire, for son, for lover dear,
Yet Sorrow smiles amid her weeds,Ч
Affliction dries her tender tear;
Oh! she exclaims, with glowing pride,
With ardent thoughts that wildly soar,
My sire, my son, my lover died,
Conquering on Erie's bloody shore.

Long shall my country bless that day,
When soared our Eagle to the skies;
Long, long in triumph's bright array,
That victory shall proudly rise:
And when our country's lights are gone,
And all its proudest days are o'er,
How will her fading courage dawn,
To think on Erie's bloody shore!

Throughout the war of 1812 with Great Britain, the navy was more successful than the army. In the battle on Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry captured six British vessels.

September 10, 1813

James Gates Percival

James Gates Percival's other poems:
  1. The Deserted Wife
  2. The Coral Grove
  3. To Seneca Lake
  4. May
  5. Spring

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