The Prayer on Bunker's Hill

By Lydia Sigourney

It was an hour of fear and dread,
High rose the battle cry,
And round in heavy volumes spread
The war-cloud to the sky.
‘Twas not, as when in rival strength,
Contending nations meet,
Or love of conquest madly hurls
A monarch from his seat.
But many a warm cemented tie,
Was riven in anguish wild,
Ere with a foe-man’s vengeful eye
The parent met the child.
O’er the green hill’s beleagur’d breast,
Swept on the conflict high,
And many a gallant leader prest
The trampled turf to die.
Yet one was there unus’d to tread,
The path of mortal strife,
Who but the Saviour’s flock had led
Beside the fount of life.
He knelt him where the black smoke wreath’d
His head was bow’d and bare,
While for an infant land, he breath’d
The agony of prayer.
The shafts of death flew thick and fast,
‘Mid shrieks of ire and pain,
Wide wav’d his white locks on the blast,
And round him fell the slain.
Yet still with fervency intense
He prest the endanger’d spot,
The selfish thought, the shrinking sense
O’ermaster’d, and forgot.
‘Twould seem as if a marble form
Wrought in some quarried height,
Stood fix’d amid thai battle storm,
Save that the eye was bright.
Save that the deeply-heaving breast,
The hand uprais’d in air,
The smile, yet moving lips, exprest
That strong life wrestled there.
Then loud upon their native soil,
Peal’d forth their victor’s cry,
And thinn’d beneath the desperate toil,
The wearied host swept by.
But ‘mid that strange and fierce delight,
A chief of other days.
Gave up your falchions broad and bright,
Your own light arms the praise.
Or thought ye still how many a prayer,
Amid the deathful fray,
From cottage homes, and heads of care,
Rose up for you that day?
The column red with early morn,
May tower o’er Bunker’s height,
And proudly till a race unborn
Their patriot father’s might.
But thou, Oh patriot, old and grey,
Thou prophet of the free,
Who knelt amid the dead, that day,
What fame shall rise to thee?
It is not meet that brass or stone,
Which feel the touch of time,
Should keep the record of a faith
That woke thy deed sublime.
We trace it on a tablet fair
Which glows when stars wax pale,
A promise that the good man’s prayer
Shall with his God prevail.

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