Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Woodstock, Va.


By Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)

(From The Rising in 1776)

THE PASTOR rose: the prayer was strong;

The psalm was warrior David’s song;

The text, a few short words of might,—

“The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!”

He spoke of wrongs too long endured,

Of sacred rights to be secured;

Then from his patriot tongue of flame

The startling words for Freedom came.

The stirring sentences he spake

Compelled the heart to glow or quake,

And, rising on his theme’s broad wing,

And grasping in his nervous hand

The imaginary battle-brand,

In face of death he dared to fling

Defiance to a tyrant king.

Even as he spoke, his frame, renewed

In eloquence of attitude,

Rose, as it seemed, a shoulder higher;

Then swept his kindling glance of fire

From startled pew to breathless choir;

When suddenly his mantle wide

His hands impatient flung aside,

And, lo! he met their wondering eyes

Complete in all a warrior’s guise.


And now before the open door—

The warrior-priest had ordered so—

The enlisting trumpet’s sudden soar

Rang through the chapel, o’er and o’er,

Its long reverberating blow,

So loud and clear, it seemed the ear

Of dusty Death must wake and hear.

And there the startling drum and fife

Fired the living with fiercer life;

While overhead, with wild increase,

Forgetting its ancient toll of peace,

The great bell swung as ne’er before:

It seemed as it would never cease;

And every word its ardor flung

From off its jubilant iron tongue

Was, “War! War! War!”

“Who dares”—this was the patriot’s cry,

As striding from the desk he came—

“Come out with me, in Freedom’s name,

For her to live, for her to die?”

A hundred hands flung up reply,

A hundred voices answered, “I!”