Under the Washington Elm, Cambridge, April 27, 1861
a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Eighty years have passed, and more,
Since under the brave old tree
Our fathers gathered in arms and swore
They would follow the sign their banners bore,
And fight till the land was free.
Half of their work was done,
Half is left to do,–
Cambridge, and Concord, and Lexington!
When the battle is fought and won,
What shall be told of you?
Hark!–’tis the south wind moans,–
Who are the martyrs down?
Ah, the marrow was true in your children’s bones,
That sprinkled with blood the cursed stones
Of the murder-haunted town!
What if the storm-clouds blow?
What if the green leaves fall?
Better the crashing tempest’s throe
Than the army of worms that gnawed below;
Trample them one and all!
Then when the battle is won,
And the land from traitors free,
Our children shall tell of the strife begun
When Liberty’s second April sun
Was bright on our brave old tree!
From Chimes of Freedom and Union, a Collection of Poems for the Times
published in Boston by Benjamin B. Russell, 1861.
Included poems by Holmes, Jean Greenleaf Whittier, William Cullen Bryant and other noted poets of the time.
PS1959 .A7 v.1 no. 3