Under the Washington Elm

Cambridge, April 27, 1861 – 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 winds moans –

Who are the martyrs down? –

Ah, the marrow was true in your children’s bones,

That sprinkled with blood the curses 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 worm 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 out brave old tree!

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