GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2002-08 > 1030059902
Subject: [GM-L] Grandmother's Story ~ Bunker Hill 1775 Part 1
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 19:45:04 EDT
My thanks to Ann Keegan who sent me 4 lines of this epic poem and within
found it online when I said I would love to read it through! A treasure and
that flows so nicely to be read to children & grandchildren for betime
Subject: Grandmother's Story ~ Bunker Hill 1775
By Oliver Wendell Holmes
Of the Corporal, our old neighbor, on that wooden leg
With a knot of women round him, - it was lucky I
had found him,
So I followed with the others and the Corporal
They were making for the steeple - the
old soldier and his poeple;
The pidgions circled round us as we climbed the creaking
Just across the narrow river - Oh, so close it made
Stood a fortress on the hilltop that but yesterday was
Not slow our eyes to find it; well we knew who stood
Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the stubborn walls were dumb.
Here were sister, wife and mother, looking wild upon
And their lips were white with terror as they said,
THE HOUR HAS COME!
The morning slowly wasted, not a morsel had we
And our heads were almost splitting with the cannon's
When a figure tall and stately round the rampart
It was Prescott, one since told me; he commanded
on the hill.
Every woman's heart grew bigger when we saw his
With the banyan buckled round it, standing up so
straight and tall;
Like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out for
Through the storm of shells and cannon shot he
walked around the wall.
At eleven the streets were swarming, for the redcoats'
ranks were forming;
At noon in marching order they were moving to the
How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we looked
far down and listened,
To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted
At length the men have started, with a cheer (it
In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsacks on
And the reddeniing, rippling water, as after a sea fight's slaughter,
Round the barges gliding onward blushed like blood
along their tracks.
So they crossed to the other border, and again they
formed in order;
And the boats came back for soldiers, came for soldiers, soldiers still;
The time seemed everlasting to us women faint and fasting,
At last they're moving, marching, marching proudly
up the hill.
We can see the bright steel glancing all along the
lines advancing -
Now the front rank fires a volley - they have thrown
away their shot;
For behind their earthwork lying , all the balls above
Our people need not hurry; so they wait and answer
Then the Corporal, our old cripple (he would swear
sometimes and tipple),
He heard the bullets whistle (in the old French
war before) -
Calls out in words of jeering, just as if they all were
And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty
"Oh! fire away, ye villains and earn King George's
But ye'll waste a tone of powder afore a 'rebel' falls;
You may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as safe
as Dan'l Malcolm
Ten foot beneath the gravestone that you've splintered with your balls!"
In the hush of expectation , in the awe and trepidation
Of the dread approaching moment, we are well-nigh
Though the rotten bars are failing on the rickety
We are crowding up against them like the waves
against a wall.
Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,
nearer, - nearer,
When a flash - a curling smoke-wreath - then a
crash - the steeple shakes -
The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud is
Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder cloud
To be continued - Part 2 - p. 13.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
Grandmother's Story - 1775 - Bunker Hill. Oliver W. Holmes</A> Part 2. p. 13