J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ambrose Bierce on “Bunker’s holy hill”

Here’s an example of poetry inspired by the Battle of Bunker Hill from Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?), published in 1886:

“‘Let there be Liberty!’ God said, and lo!
The skies were red and luminous. The glow
Struck first Columbia’s kindling mountain peaks
One hundred and eleven years ago!”

So sang a patriot whom once I saw
Descending Bunker’s holy hill. With awe
I noted that he shone with sacred light,
Like Moses with the tables of the Law.

One hundred and eleven years? O small
And paltry period compared with all
The tide of centuries that flowed and ebbed
To etch Yosemite’s divided wall!

Ah, Liberty, they sing you always young
Whose harps are in your adoration strung.
(Each swears you are his countrywoman, too,
And speak no language but his mother tongue.)

And truly, lass, although with shout and horn
Man has all-hailed you from creation’s morn
I cannot think you old—I think, indeed,
You are by twenty centuries unborn.
Rob Vellela at the American Literary Blog clued me into this poem back in April.

It’s not eligible for the current Boston 1775 Poetic Challenge because:

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