New England’s Own

 

NEW ENGLAND’S OWN

There’s a sound that swells to the listening sky, and breaks, and swells again
A sound to the April breezes blown of a host of marching men;
And the people’s hearts lift up to hear, and the city’s gates swing wide
To the tramp of twenty thousand strong, the beat of a tawny tide.
They come, they come with the throbbing drum! Let the glad word be known.
Fling the flags to the four free winds, and greet New England’s Own!

These were the eager-hearted ones when first the bugles blew;
The clean north winds had swept their souls before the war-flags flew.
They set their faces like the flint of the old north country hills;
They pledged their manhood without stint, and their young, intrepid wills.
They did not stay for the perilous way. Forward! their cry was thrown;
Stout hearts might well have faltered then — but not New England’s Own!

They caught the spurt of the first red stars that flamed the battle sign;
They gave their bodies as iron bars to weld the battle line;
Aisne-Marne, Chavignon, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne east and west
The old strange names, familiar now as heart-beats in each breast,
And keen with memories of those they left to sleep alone,
Dust to dust in an alien land, yet still New England’s Own.

They dreamed the dreams of peace and youth, but when the storm was rife
They counted comfort less than truth and honor more than life.
Each with his starry flag above, his weapon in his hand,
Fought for earth’s liberty, and love, and his own dear native land;
Walked blindly in the smoking ways, that the light his eyes had known
Might never perish from the shore that sent New England’s Own.

There’s a sound that swells in the April air till it shakes the market-place
The tread of a host of marching men who have looked death in the face;
Who have staggered back from the brink of hell to find the world still sweet
And the dust of God’s own country gray once more upon their feet.
They come, they come with the throbbing drum! Let the high flag be flown
The flag they shed their blood to keep, and kept — New England’s Own!

by Nancy Byrd Turner, 1919

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