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On Board tbe Cumberland

43

It did our sore hearts good to hear

The song our pivot sang,
As rushing on, froni wave to wave,

The whirring bomb-shell sprang.

Brave Randall leaped upon the gun,

And waved his cap in sport; “ Well done! well aimed! I saw that shell

Go through an open port.”

It was our last, our deadliest shot;

The deck was over-flown :
The poor ship staggered, lurched to port,

And gave a living groan.

Down, down, as headlong through the waves

Our gallant vessel rushed,
A thousand gurgling, watery sounds

Around my senses gushed.

Then I remember little more;

One look to heaven I gave, Where, like an angel's wing, I saw

Our spotless ensign wave.

I tried to cheer, I cannot say

Whether I swam or sank;
A blue mist closed around my eyes,

And every thing was blank.

When I awoke, a soldier-lad,

All dripping from the sea,
With two great tears upon his cheeks,

Was bending over me.

I tried to speak. He understood

The wish I could not speak. He turned me. There, thank God! the flag

Still fluttered at the peak !

And there, while thread shall hang to thread,

O let that ensign fly!
The noblest constellation set

Against our northern sky.

A sign that we who live may

claim The peerage of the brave; A monument, that needs no scroll,

For those beneath the wave!

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BR

RAVE Morris saw the day was lost;
For nothing now

remained On the wrecked and sinking Cumberland

But to save the flag unstained.
So he swore an oath in the sight of heaven

(If he kept it, the world can tell) :
Before I strike to a rebel flag,
I'll sink to the gates of hell !

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'Here, take my sword; 'tis in my way;

I shall trip o'er the useless steel : For I'll meet the lot that falls to all,

With my shoulder at the wheel.”

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So the little negro took the sword,

And oh ! with what reverent care ! Following his master step by step,

He bore it here and there.

A thought had crept through his sluggish brain,

And shone in his dusky face,
That somehow—he could not tell just how-

'T was the sword of his trampled race.

And as Morris, great with his lion heart,

Rushed onward from gun to gun, The little negro slid after him,

Like a shadow in the sun.

But something of pomp and of curious pride

The sable creature wore,
Which at any time but a time like that

Would have made the ship's crew roar.

Over the wounded, dying, and dead,

Like an usher of the rod,
The black page, full of his mighty trust,

With dainty caution trod.

No heed he gave to the flying ball,

No heed to the bursting shell ;
His duty was something more than life,

And he strove to do it well.

Down, with our starry flag apeak,

In the whirling sea we sank;
And captain and crew and the sword-bearer

Were washed from the bloody plank.

Tbe Sword=JBearer

47

They picked us up from the hungry waves

Alas! not all. And where, Where is the faithful negro lad?

“Back oars ! avast! look there!

We looked, and as heaven may save my soul,

I pledge you a sailor's word,
There, fathoms deep in the sea he lay,

Still grasping his master's sword.

We drew him out; and many an hour

We wrought with his rigid form,
Ere the almost smothered spark of life

By slow degrees grew warm.

The first dull glance that his eyeballs rolled

Was down toward his shrunken hand; And he siniled, and closed his eyes again,

As they fell on the rescued brand.

And no one touched the sacred sword,

Till at length, when Morris came, The little negro stretched it out,

With his eager eyes aflame.

And if Morris wrung the poor boy's hand,

And his words seemed hard to speak, And tears ran down his manly cheeks,

What tongue shall call him weak ?

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