Derne





The storming of the city of Derne, in 1805, by General Eaton, at the

head of nine Americans, forty Greeks, and a motley array of Turks and

Arabs, was one of those feats of hardihood and daring which have in all

ages attracted the admiration of the multitude. The higher and holier

heroism of Christian self-denial and sacrifice, in the humble walks of

private duty, is seldom so well appreciated.



NIGHT on the city of the Moor!

On mosque and tomb, and white-walled shore,

On sea-waves, to whose ceaseless knock

The narrow harbor-gates unlock,

On corsair's galley, carack tall,

And plundered Christian caraval!

The sounds of Moslem life are still;

No mule-bell tinkles down the hill;

Stretched in the broad court of the khan,

The dusty Bornou caravan

Lies heaped in slumber, beast and man;

The Sheik is dreaming in his tent,

His noisy Arab tongue o'erspent;

The kiosk's glimmering lights are gone,

The merchant with his wares withdrawn;

Rough pillowed on some pirate breast,

The dancing-girl has sunk to rest;

And, save where measured footsteps fall

Along the Bashaw's guarded wall,

Or where, like some bad dream, the Jew

Creeps stealthily his quarter through,

Or counts with fear his golden heaps,

The City of the Corsair sleeps.



But where yon prison long and low

Stands black against the pale star-glow,

Chafed by the ceaseless wash of waves,

There watch and pine the Christian slaves;

Rough-bearded men, whose far-off wives

Wear out with grief their lonely lives;

And youth, still flashing from his eyes

The clear blue of New England skies,

A treasured lock of whose soft hair

Now wakes some sorrowing mother's prayer;

Or, worn upon some maiden breast,

Stirs with the loving heart's unrest.



A bitter cup each life must drain,

The groaning earth is cursed with pain,

And, like the scroll the angel bore

The shuddering Hebrew seer before,

O'erwrit alike, without, within,

With all the woes which follow sin;

But, bitterest of the ills beneath

Whose load man totters down to death,

Is that which plucks the regal crown

Of Freedom from his forehead down,

And snatches from his powerless hand

The sceptred sign of self-command,

Effacing with the chain and rod

The image and the seal of God;

Till from his nature, day by day,

The manly virtues fall away,

And leave him naked, blind and mute,

The godlike merging in the brute!



Why mourn the quiet ones who die

Beneath affection's tender eye,

Unto their household and their kin

Like ripened corn-sheaves gathered in?

O weeper, from that tranquil sod,

That holy harvest-home of God,

Turn to the quick and suffering, shed

Thy tears upon the living dead

Thank God above thy dear ones' graves,

They sleep with Him, they are not slaves.



What dark mass, down the mountain-sides

Swift-pouring, like a stream divides?

A long, loose, straggling caravan,

Camel and horse and armed man.

The moon's low crescent, glimmering o'er

Its grave of waters to the shore,

Lights tip that mountain cavalcade,

And gleams from gun and spear and blade

Near and more near! now o'er them falls

The shadow of the city walls.

Hark to the sentry's challenge, drowned

In the fierce trumpet's charging sound!

The rush of men, the musket's peal,

The short, sharp clang of meeting steel!



Vain, Moslem, vain thy lifeblood poured

So freely on thy foeman's sword!

Not to the swift nor to the strong

The battles of the right belong;

For he who strikes for Freedom wears

The armor of the captive's prayers,

And Nature proffers to his cause

The strength of her eternal laws;

While he whose arm essays to bind

And herd with common brutes his kind

Strives evermore at fearful odds

With Nature and the jealous gods,

And dares the dread recoil which late

Or soon their right shall vindicate.



'T is done, the horned crescent falls

The star-flag flouts the broken walls

Joy to the captive husband! joy

To thy sick heart, O brown-locked boy!

In sullen wrath the conquered Moor

Wide open flings your dungeon-door,

And leaves ye free from cell and chain,

The owners of yourselves again.

Dark as his allies desert-born,

Soiled with the battle's stain, and worn

With the long marches of his band

Through hottest wastes of rock and sand,

Scorched by the sun and furnace-breath

Of the red desert's wind of death,

With welcome words and grasping hands,

The victor and deliverer stands!



The tale is one of distant skies;

The dust of half a century lies

Upon it; yet its hero's name

Still lingers on the lips of Fame.

Men speak the praise of him who gave

Deliverance to the Moorman's slave,

Yet dare to brand with shame and crime

The heroes of our land and time,--

The self-forgetful ones, who stake

Home, name, and life for Freedom's sake.

God mend his heart who cannot feel

The impulse of a holy zeal,

And sees not, with his sordid eyes,

The beauty of self-sacrifice

Though in the sacred place he stands,

Uplifting consecrated hands,

Unworthy are his lips to tell

Of Jesus' martyr-miracle,

Or name aright that dread embrace

Of suffering for a fallen race!

1850.





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