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American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt

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SONG OF MARIONíS MEN

Our band is few, but true and tried, our leader frank and bold;

The British soldier trembles when Marionís name is told;

Our fortress is the good greenwood, our tent the cypress tree;

We know the forest round us, as seamen know the sea.

We know its walls of thorny vines, its glades of reedy grass,

Its safe and silent islands within the dark morass.


Woe to the English soldiery that little dread us near!

On them shall light at midnight a strange and sudden fear;

When, waking to their tents on fire, they grasp their arms in vain,

And they who stand to face us are beat to earth again;

[111]

And they who fly in terror deem a mighty host behind,

And hear the tramp of thousands upon the hollow wind.


Then sweet the hour that brings release from danger and from toil!

We talk the battle over and share the battleís spoil;

The woodland rings with laugh and shout, as if a hunt were up,

And woodland flowers were gathered to crown the soldierís cup.

With merry songs we mock the wind that in the pin-top grieves.

And slumber sound and sweetly on beds of oaken leaves.


Well knows the fair and friendly moon the band that Marion leads—

The glitter of their rifles, the scampering of their steeds.

'Tis life to guide the fiery barb across the moonlit plain;

'Tis life to feel the night-wind that lifts his tossing mane.

A moment in the British camp—a moment and away

Back to the pathless forest before the peep of day.


Grave men they are by broad Santee, grave men with hoary hairs,

Their hearts are all with Marion, for Marion are their prayers.

And lovely ladies greet our band with kindest welcoming,

With smiles like those of summer and tears like those of spring.

For them we wear these rusty arms, and lay them down no more,

Till we have driven the Britons forever from our shore.

—BRYANT


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