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On Board tbe Cumberland
It did our sore hearts good to hear
The song our pivot sang,
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 :
And gave a living groan.
Down, down, as headlong through the waves
Our gallant vessel rushed,
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;
And every thing was blank.
When I awoke, a soldier-lad,
All dripping from the sea,
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!
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!
RAVE Morris saw the day was lost;
remained On the wrecked and sinking Cumberland
But to save the flag unstained.
(If he kept it, the world can tell) :
'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.”
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,
'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,
Would have made the ship's crew roar.
Over the wounded, dying, and dead,
Like an usher of the rod,
With dainty caution trod.
No heed he gave to the flying ball,
No heed to the bursting shell ;
And he strove to do it well.
Down, with our starry flag apeak,
In the whirling sea we sank;
Were washed from the bloody plank.
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,
Still grasping his master's sword.
We drew him out; and many an hour
We wrought with his rigid form,
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 ?