Old Ironsides

Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;—
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

 

Poems by This Author

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign
The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes
I saw him once before


Further Reading

Poems about Boats and Ships
In Passing
by Stanley Plumly
Of Politics, & Art
by Norman Dubie
Ships That Pass in the Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Fish
by Linda Bierds
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
Where Go the Boats?
by Robert Louis Stevenson
White Water
by John Montague