Ode to the Memory of Perry

With brow serene a form advanced,
His lofty eye was fixed on heaven,
To him the strength of soul was given,
A frown on vice he sternly glanced;
His purpose firm, his bosom clear,
He could not stoop, he could not fear;
With giant step he trod the ground,
The living waves rolled back, and gave
An honorable space around;
Such soul-subduing power attends the virtuous brave.
Amid the deafening roar of War,
Or mad Sedition's thundering shock,
The senate's brawl, the forum's jar,
He stands, an intellectual rock:
In vain the storms of party rage
Against his moveless form engage,
In vain the torrent rushes by,—
He views the chafing flood with firm, undaunted eye.
At once he rose in dazzling light,—
No deed of arms had graced his shield,
Nor proudly bore its argent field
The story of victorious fight:
He burst, a sun, upon the world.
He stood his country's brazen wall,
Her bolt with conquering arm he hurled,
And, springing at her sacred call,
Through death and danger fearless rushed:
His hand was nerved, his heart inspired,
By valor's fire his soul was flushed;
Nor stopped he till his foe retired,
Their rage subdued, their thunders hushed;—
Then in a youthful victor's might he trod,
And owned no sovereign but his land and God.

A nation's dawning light has fled:
Beyond the ocean's purple wave,
He coldly sleeps among the dead,
Without a stone to deck his grave:
Cut off in honor's early bloom,
When life was young and spirits high,
He sank in silence to the tomb,
Forbid in valor's field to die.
Pale sickness o'er him spread her gloom;
And he who, in the mortal strife,
Where nations toil for death or life,
Had better winged his heavenward flight,
Who should have slept on glory's bed,
In sorrow quenched his new-dawned light,
And feebly mingled with the dead.
O, had he met on Erie's wave
The glorious death he nobly sought,
That death by matchless valor bought,—
A hero generous as brave,—
We then had borne him to his tomb
With all the tenderness of grief,
And wept with honest pride his doom,
And hailed him as our darling chief.
The sailor asks no sweeter grave
Than ocean's gore-impurpled wave;
His life is in his country's hand,
And where she calls he loves to fly,
In battle's shock unmoved to stand,
In battle's carnage fearless die:
He sees the light of fame aspire
And kindle, as the dun clouds roll,
Its quenchless pyramid of fire,—
He sees, and hurries to the goal;
And while the voice of conflict roars,
His ardent spirit springs and soars;
By glory's breath his soul is driven,
He walks on earth, but lives in heaven;
And, as the mounting arrow flew
Along the lofty fields of blue,
Ascending still, he onward flies,
And dies in flame amid the skies.
How few attain that envied height,
Where all is cloudless, pure, and bright!
How few the souls that never stoop,
How few the hearts that never droop,
Who always fix their eye on fame,
Their only wealth their mighty name,
Their only boast, to do the deed
That all may love, but none decry,—
In freedom's holy cause to bleed,
Where Glory calls, to rush and die!
Glory is not the blasting flame
That burns around a Cæsar's head;
Beneath the golden wreath of fame
None but the wise and good may tread:
The hand must toil, the foot must strive,
No selfish feeling stain the breast,
No passion wild-careering drive
The soul, that longs for Glory's rest.
Sweet after labor comes repose,
And he who toils through life can die,
His long career of honor close,
With brow unruffled, tearless eye:
He knows, though envy blot his name,
When time has swept those clouds away
That o'er the purest light will stray,
No shade can dim his sun of fame.
How sweet the calm that fills his breast,
When, after years of generous strife,
He sinks, by every bosom blest,
And bursts from pain to light and life!
Around his brow the beams of glory play,
And o'er him settles Heaven's eternal day.
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