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

Middle States: Erie, the Lake, N. Y.

Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie

By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)


BRIGHT was the morn,—the waveless bay

Shone like a mirror to the sun;

Mid greenwood shades and meadows gay,

The matin birds their lays begun:

While swelling o’er the gloomy wood

Was heard the faintly echoed roar,—

The dashing of the foamy flood,

That beat on Erie’s distant shore.

The tawny wanderer of the wild

Paddled his painted birch canoe,

And, where the wave serenely smiled,

Swift as the darting falcon, flew;

He rowed along that peaceful bay,

And glanced its polished surface o’er,

Listening the billow far away,

That rolled on Erie’s lonely shore.

What sounds awake my slumbering ear?

What echoes o’er the waters come?

It is the morning gun I hear,

The rolling of the distant drum.

Far o’er the bright illumined wave

I mark the flash,—I hear the roar,

That calls from sleep the slumbering brave,

To fight on Erie’s lonely shore.

See how the starry banner floats,

And sparkles in the morning ray:

While sweetly swell the fife’s gay notes

In echoes o’er the gleaming bay:

Flash follows flash, as through yon fleet

Columbia’s cannons loudly roar,

And valiant tars the battle greet,

That storms on Erie’s echoing shore.

O, who can tell what deeds were done,

When Britain’s cross, on yonder wave,

Sunk ’neath Columbia’s dazzling sun,

And met in Erie’s flood its grave?

Who tell the triumphs of that day,

When, smiling at the cannon’s roar,

Our hero, mid the bloody fray,

Conquered on Erie’s echoing shore?

Though many a wounded bosom bleeds

For sire, for son, for lover dear,

Yet Sorrow smiles amid her weeds,—

Affliction dries her tender tear;

Oh! she exclaims, with glowing pride,

With ardent thoughts that wildly soar,

My sire, my son, my lover died,

Conquering on Erie’s bloody shore!