There are times when life seems grim. The future dark. There are many events occurring now that could cause one to wonder what kind of future we can have with the corrupt in power, barbarians at the gates, and amoral snowflakes that make up the next generation crying over every perceived slight. But things have turned, and its important to remember that. Its also important to remember that dark times have come before, just as they will always come, and that they have been conquered by good men standing astride history and turning aside the darkness. Its good to recall those who performed great deeds and inspiring the people of their time. Let their stories be an example even today. That good men, acting upon their conscience, can put thought into action and change the course of history.
This poem is about a group of patriots led by Francis Marion. By 1780 it seemed that the British had subdued the South, but it was during this time that Marion raised and maintained a band of trusted patriots, beginning with less than twenty. So troublesome was Marion’s Brigade that the Brits sent a special detachment, led by Colonel Tarleton, to capture Marion dead or alive. After a pursuit of Marion through 26 miles of swamps, Tarleton declared “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him.” It was from this that Marion gained the name “Swamp Fox.”
Song of Marion’s Men
Our band is few, but true and tried,
Our leader frank and bold;
The British soldier trembles
When Marion’s name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us,
As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines,
Its glades of reedy grass,
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery,
That little dread us near!
On them shall light at midnight
A strange and sudden fear:
When, waking to their tents on fire,
They grasp their arms in vain,
And they who stand to face us
Are beat to earth again.
And they who fly in terror deem
A mighty host behind,
And hear the tramp of thousands
Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release
From danger and from toil;
We talk the battle over,
And share the battle’s spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout
As if a hunt were up,
And woodland flowers are gathered
To crown the soldier’s cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the pine-top grieves,
And slumber long and sweetly
On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
‘Tis life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlight plain;
‘Tis life to feel the night-wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp
A moment and away
Back to the pathless forest,
Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee,
Grave men with hoary hairs;
Their hearts are all with Marion,
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming,
With smiles like those of summer,
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms,
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton,
Forever, from our shore.
~~ William Cullen Bryant