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From Philadelphia now retreating, To save his anxious troops a beating, With hasty stride he flies in vain, His rear attack'd on Monmouth plain : With various chance the mortal fray Is lengthen'd to the close of day, When his tired bands o’ermatched in fight, Are rescued by descending night; He forms his camp with vain parade, Till ev'ning spreads the world with shade, Then still, like some endanger'd spark, Steals off on tiptoe in the dark; Yet writes his king in boasting tone, How grand he march'd by light of moon. I see him; but thou canst not; proud He leads in front the trembling crowd, And wisely knows, if danger's near, 'Twill fall the heaviest on his rear. Go on, great Gen’ral, nor regard The scoffs of every scribling Bard, Who sing how Gods that fatal night Aided by miracles your flight, As once they used, in Homer's day, To help weak heroes run away ; Tell how the hours at awful trial, Went back, as erst on Ahaz' dial, While British Joshua stay'd the moon, On Monmouth plains for Ajalon : Heed not their sneers and gibes so arch, Because she set before your march. A small mistake, your meaning right, You take her influence for her light; Her influence, which shall be your guide, And o'er your Gen’ralship preside.”
JOEL BARLOW OF HARTFORD
1754 or 1755-1812 The Hasty Pudding seems like a gay little rhyme written purely for the pleasure of writing it; but in his preface the author declares with apparent seriousness, “I certainly had hopes of doing some good, or I should not have taken the pains of putting so many rhymes together.”
It is a pity that Barlow did not follow Jefferson's advice to write a history of the Revolution ; but the wish of his heart was to compose a patriotic epic, and unfortunately he mistook the desire for the ability. Both The Vision of Columbus and The Columbiad contain passages far less prosaic than the one quoted; but the fact that a man of Barlow's undoubted literary gifts could do no better with such a subject as the surrender of Quebec is proof that his talent lay in other forms of composition.
From “The Hasty Pudding," New Haven, 1796.
The First Hasty Pudding
Despise it not, ye Bards to terror steeld,
The milk beside thee, smoking from the kine,
Oh! could the smooth, the emblematic song Flow like thy genial juices o'er my tongue,
Could those mild morsels in my numbers chime,
Assist me first with pious toil to trace
Declare what lovely squaw in days of yore,
Could but her sacred name, unknown so long,
From “The Columbiad,” Book V. Philadelphia, 1807.
The Capture of Quebec Wolfe, now detacht and bent on bolder deeds, A sail-borne host up sealike Laurence leads, Stems the long lessening tide ; till Abraham's height And famed Quebec rise frowning into sight. Swift bounding on the bank, the foe they claim, Climb the tall mountain like a rolling flame, Push wide their wings, high bannering bright the air, And move to fight as comets cope in war. The smoke falls folding thro the downward sky, And shrouds the mountain from the Patriarch's eye; While on the towering top, in glare of day, The flashing swords in fiery arches play, As on a side-seen storm, adistance driven, The flames fork round the semivault of heaven. Thick thunders roll, descending torrents flow, Dash down the clouds and whelm the hills below:
Or as on plains of light when Michael strove,
Long raged promiscuous combat, half conceald,
PHILIP FRENEAU OF NEW JERSEY
1752-1832 The following selectio are from Poems Written between the Years 1768 and 1794, which was “Printed at the Press of the Author, at Mount Pleasant, near Middletown Point, M.DCC.XCV: and of American Independence XIX."
Freneau's poems are marked by a charming tone of sincerity. They are not always poetic from beginning to end; for instance, in The Indian Burying-Ground the poetry is all in the last five stanzas; but there is a truly poetic atmosphere about them, and here and there is a line that might well have come from the pen of some one holding a loftier rank in the realms of poesy.
The Wish of Diogenes