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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Crossed Swords

By Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (1793–1870)

[From Metrical Pieces. 1855.]

On seeing the swords of Col. Prescott and Capt. Linzee, now crossed through a carved wreath of olive-leaves, in the hall of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

SWORDS crossed,—but not in strife!

The chiefs who drew them, parted by the space

Of two proud countries’ quarrel, face to face

Ne’er stood for death or life.

Swords crossed that never met

While nerve was in the hands that wielded them;

Hands better destined a fair family stem

On these free shores to set.

Kept crossed by gentlest bands!

Emblems no more of battle, but of peace;

And proof how loves can grow and wars can cease,

Their once stern symbol stands.

It smiled first on the array

Of marshalled books and friendliest companies;

And here a history among histories,

It still shall smile for aye.

See that thou memory keep,

Of him the firm commander; and that other,

The stainless judge; and him our peerless brother,—

All fallen now asleep.

Yet more: a lesson teach,

To cheer the patriot-soldier in his course,

That Right shall triumph still o’er insolent Force:

That be your silent speech.

Oh, be prophetic too!

And may those nations twain, as sign and seal

Of endless amity, hang up their steel

As we these weapons do!

The archives of the Past,

So smeared with blots of hate and bloody wrong,

Pining for peace, and sick to wait so long,

Hail this meek cross at last.