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The School-Boy's Lesson in Poetry remembered by
tye Soldier on the field of Battle.
(EXTRACT FROM MR. MURDOCH'S LECTURES.) I SHALL here narrate an incident of the war as an illustration of the lasting impression made on the youthful mind by the recitation of patriotic poetry, at school or elsewhere. And how true is that instinct of our nature which impels us, in moments of trial or danger, to look within ourselves or towards others for the expression of some ennobling sentiment, by which to fan the flame of heroic valor and excite the ardor of enthusiasm,—that spirit which spurs men on to dare and do in defence of principle and right!
Hence it is that, in the preparations for battle, martial music becomes a necessity. Then, too, does the language of heroism, and manly devotion in the cause we fight for, prove the steel to the flint, while the sparks that flash from the contact serve to create a flame, which, firing the veins and swelling the heart, leaves no room for the cooler faculties to operate on the nervous system. Then do men, borrowing courage from the words of heroes, burn with so fierce a flame of venturous daring that they themselves are struck with wonder when the deeds are done. The following incident I am about to relate proves
how universally poetry is allied to heroic deeds, and how spontaneous is the growth of sublime courage under the excitement of danger and trial in the defence of our country's honor.
During Kirby Smith's raid in Kentucky, I was enjoying the hospitality of Colonel Jack Casement (as he is familiarly called), of the 103d Ohio. While eating our dinner of hard bread and coffee, the pickets were driven in, the order to form in line of battle was given, the trenches were manned, and, after a short speech from the Colonel, in which he exhorted his men to keep cool, load quick, and fire low, we stood awaiting the enemy, who, as we supposed, were about to make an assault upon the works from the cover of a thickly-wooded ravine on our left. My sensations were new and strange, as I had never been under fire, and, turning to the Colonel, I asked his advice as to the way in which I could be most useful to him.
He replied, “While they are advancing up the turnpike yonder, the best thing you can do will be to stand by the regimental colors and give the boys a verse or two of Marco Bozzaris,
“Strike !-till the last arm'd foe expires !
Strike !—for your altars and your fires ! etc. “Do that, and, I'll pledge my life for it, there is not a drop of blood in the 103d that will not fire up and burn as long as a foe dare face them. Throw down your carbine, captain, and give us the poetry of war. That's the prelude to remind us of mother and father, of sister and brother, of our country and God! That's the music to make the boys fight, and that's the weapon you know how to strike with.” I was not called upon to make the experiment; for the rebel advance we were waiting for turned out to be a party of our own forces, who, while on a reconnoissance, mistook their road. Being in a strip of wood, covered with a thick and tangled undergrowth, where the ground was broken by the winding course of a small stream, the advancing party did not realize their position until they saw the guns of Fort Mitchell frowning down upon them. Thus they narrowly escaped receiving the fiery greeting we had in readiness for the foe.
BY FITZ-GREENE HALLECK.
At midnight, in his guarded tent,
The Turk was dreaming of the hour
Should tremble at his power;
In dreams, his song of triumph heard;
A's Eden's garden bird.
At midnight, in the forest shades,
Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
Heroes in heart and hand.
On old Platæa's day;
As quick, as far, as they.
An hour pass'd on: the Turk awoke.
That bright dream was his last. He woke to hear his sentries shriek, “To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek !” He woke, to die 'midst flame and smoke, And shout, and groan, and sabre-stroke,
And death-shots falling thick and fast
As lightnings from the mountain cloud,
Bozzaris cheer his band :
They fought like brave men, long and well;
They piled that ground with Moslem slain; They conquer'd ;-but Bozzaris fell,
Bleeding at every vein.
And the red field was won,
Like flowers at set of sun.
Come to the bridal chamber, Death!
Come to the mother's, when she feels,
Come when the blessed seals
With banquet song, and dance, and wine;
Of agony, are thine.
Has won the battle for the free,
The thanks of millions yet to be.
Come when his task of fame is wrought;
Come in her crowning hour,-and then
Of sky and stars to prison'd men;
To the world-seeking Genoese,
Blew o'er the Haytian seas.
Bozzaris! with the storied brave
Greece nurtured in her glory's time, Rest thee: there is no prouder grave,
Even in her own proud clime. She wore no funeral weeds for thee,
Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume, Like torn branch from death's leafless tree, In sorrow's pomp and pageantry,
The heartless luxury of the tomb; But she remembers thee as one Long loved, and for a season gone; For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed, Her marble wrought, her music breathed; For thee she rings the birthday bells; Of thee her babes' first lisping tells; For thine her evening prayer is said, At palace couch and cottage bed; Her soldier, closing with the foe, Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow; His plighted maiden, when she fears For him, the joy of her young years, Thinks of thy fate, and checks her tears;