Poems and Songs Celebrating America

Poems and Songs Celebrating America


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Poems and Songs Celebrating America by Ann Braybrooks

A tribute to the ideals and accomplishments of American history, this anthology features inspiring verse by Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Phillis Wheatley, Katharine Lee Bates, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and other noteworthy writers.
Contents include Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Sandburg's "Chicago," Oliver Wendell Holmes's "Old Ironsides," and "Liberty Tree" by Thomas Paine. Additional poems and songs include John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Poor Voter on Election Day," Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe, Emma Lazarus's "New Colossus," and Myra Sklarew's "Monuments."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486498812
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 02/20/2013
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 579,424
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Freelance writer and editor Ann Braybrooks is the author of many books for young readers, including titles published by the Disney Press. Her other Dover title, Love: A Book of Quotations, will be published this year.

Read an Excerpt

Poems and Songs Celebrating America

By Ann Braybrooks

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-79818-9



A prominent Founding Father, Franklin was an author, printer, publisher, postmaster, inventor, scientist, political theorist, and diplomat. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and was one of its signers. The phrase "ye bad neighbors" in the second-to-last stanza of "The Mother Country" alludes to France.

    The Mother Country

    "We have an old mother that peevish is grown;
    She snubs us like children that scarce walk alone;
    She forgets we're grown up and have sense of our own;
    Which nobody can deny, deny,
    Which nobody can deny.

    If we don't obey orders, whatever the case,
    She frowns, and she chides, and she loses all patience,
    and sometimes she hits us a slap in the face,
    Which nobody can deny, etc.

    Her orders so odd are, we often suspect
    That age has impaired her sound intellect;
    But still an old mother should have due respect,
    Which nobody can deny, etc.

    Let's bear with her humors as well as we can;
    But why should we bear the abuse of her man?
    When servants make mischief, they earn the rattan,
    Which nobody should deny, etc.

    Know too, ye bad neighbors, who aim to divide
    The sons from the mother, that still she's our pride;
    And if ye attack her we're all of her side,
    Which nobody can deny, etc.

    We'll join in her lawsuits, to baffle all those,
    Who, to get what she has, will be often her foes;
    For we know it must all be our own, when she goes,
    Which nobody can deny, deny
    Which nobody can deny."

JOHN DICKINSON (1732–1808)

Dickinson, a lawyer and politician who has been called the "Penman of the Revolution," wrote "The Liberty Song" in response to the Townshend Acts of 1767, which levied additional duties on the Colonies by the British. Dickinson's friend Arthur Lee contributed a few stanzas. The lyrics contain the first use of the phrase "By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall." Dickinson was a delegate from Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress and a signer of the United States Constitution.

    The Liberty Song

    Come join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
    And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call;
    No tyrannous acts, shall suppress your just claim,
    Or stain with dishonor America's name.


    In Freedom we're born, and in Freedom we'll live.
    Our purses are ready,
    Steady, friends, steady;
    Not as slaves, but as Freemen our money we'll give.

    Our worthy forefathers—let's give them a cheer—
    To climates unknown did courageously steer;
    Thro' oceans to deserts, for freedom they came,
    And, dying, bequeath'd us their freedom and fame.


    Their generous bosoms all dangers despis'd,
    So highly, so wisely, their birthrights they priz'd;
    We'll keep what they gave, we will piously keep,
    Nor frustrate their toils on the land or the deep.


    The Tree, their own hands had to Liberty rear'd;
    They liv'd to behold growing strong and rever'd;
    With transport then cried,—"Now our wishes we gain,
    For our children shall gather the fruits of our pain."


    How sweet are the labors that freemen endure,
    That they shall enjoy all the profit, secure,—
    No more such sweet labors Americans know,
    If Britons shall reap what Americans sow.


    Swarms of placemen and pensioners soon will appear,
    Like locusts deforming the charms of the year:
    Suns vainly will rise, showers vainly descend,
    If we are to drudge for what others shall spend.


    Then join hand in hand brave Americans all,
    By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;
    In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed,
    For Heaven approves of each generous deed.


    All ages shall speak with amaze and applause,
    Of the courage we'll show in support of our laws;
    To die we can bear,—but to serve we disdain,
    For shame is to freemen more dreadful than pain.


    This bumper I crown for our sovereign's health,
    And this for Britannia's glory and wealth;
    That wealth, and that glory immortal may be,
    If she is but just, and we are but free.


THOMAS PAINE (1737–1809)

British-born Paine became an important force in the American Revolution with his fiery political writing, which included Common Sense and the "Crisis" papers. Songs such as "Liberty Tree" were cheaply printed as broadsheets and distributed throughout the Colonies, where they were sung at home and public gatherings.

    Liberty Tree


    In a chariot of light, from the regions of day,
    The goddess of liberty came,
    Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
    And hither conducted the dame.
    A fair budding branch from the garden above,
    Where millions with millions agree,
    She brought in her hand, as a pledge of her love,
    And the plant she named, Liberty tree.


    The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground,
    Like a native it flourish'd and bore:
    The fame of its fruit drew the nations around,
    To seek out this peaceable shore.
    Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
    For freemen like brothers agree;
    With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
    And their temple was Liberty tree.


    Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old,
    Their bread in contentment they ate,
    Unvex'd with the troubles of silver or gold,
    The cares of the grand and the great.
    With timber and tar they Old England supplied,
    And supported her pow'r on the sea:
    Her battles they fought, without getting a groat,
    For the honour of Liberty tree.


    But hear, O ye swains ('tis a tale most profane),
    How all the tyrannical pow'rs,
    King, Commons, and Lords, are uniting amain,
    To cut down this guardian of ours.
    From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
    Through the land let the sound of it flee:
    Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
    In defence of our Liberty tree.


Sewall was raised by his uncle, Stephen Sewall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. He became a lawyer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and wrote patriotic poems and songs during the Revolution.

    On Independence

    Come all you brave soldiers, both valiant and free,
    It's for Independence we all now agree;
    Let us gird on our swords, and prepare to defend,
    Our liberty, property, ourselves and our friends.

    In a cause that's so righteous, come let us agree,
    And from hostile invaders set America free,
    The cause is so glorious we need not to fear,
    But from merciless tyrants we'll set ourselves clear.

    Heaven's blessing attending us, no tyrant shall say,
    That Americans e'er to such monsters gave way,
    But fighting we'll die in America's cause,
    Before we'll submit to tyrannical laws.

    George the Third, of Great Britain, no more shall he reign,
    With unlimited sway o'er these free States again,
    Lord North, nor old Bute, nor none of their clan,
    Shall ever be honor'd by an American.

    May Heaven's blessings descend on our United States,
    And grant that the union may never abate;
    May love, peace, and harmony, ever be found,
    For to go hand in hand America round.

    Upon our grand Congress may Heaven bestow,
    Both wisdom and skill our good to pursue;
    On Heaven alone dependent we'll be,
    But from all earthly tyrants we mean to be free.

    Unto our brave Generals may Heaven give skill,
    Our armies to guide, and the sword for to wield,
    May their hands taught to war, and their fingers to fight,
    Be able to put British armies to flight.

    And now, brave Americans, since it is so,
    That we are independent, we'll have them to know,
    That united we are, and united we'll be,
    And from all British tyrants we'll try to keep free.

    May Heaven smile on us in all our endeavors,
    Safe guard our seaports, our towns, and our rivers,
    Keep us from invaders by land and by sea,
    And from all who'd deprive us of our liberty.

PHILIP FRENEAU (1752–1832)

Freneau was called "The Poet of the Revolution" by admirers and "that rascal Freneau" by those who disliked his politics. (George Washington was one such detractor.) Freneau joined the New Jersey militia in 1778 and was captured by the British, an experience he wrote about in The British Prison-Ship. In addition to being a writer and editor, Freneau was a sea captain.

    Eutaw Springs 1781

    At Eutaw Springs the valiant died:
    Their limbs with dust are covered o'er.
    Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
    How many heroes are no more!

    If in this wreck of ruin they
    Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
    O smite thy gentle breast, and say
    The friends of freedom slumber here!

    Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
    If goodness rules thy generous breast,
    Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
    Sigh for the shepherds sunk to rest!

    Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
    You too may fall, and ask a tear:
    'T is not the beauty of the morn
    That proves the evening shall be clear.

    They saw their injured country's woe,
    The flaming town, the wasted field;
    Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
    They took the spear—but left the shield.

    Led by thy conquering standards, Greene,
    The Britons they compelled to fly:
    None distant viewed the fatal plain,
    None grieved in such a cause to die—

    But, like the Parthians famed of old,
    Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
    These routed Britons, full as bold,
    Retreated, and retreating slew.

    Now rest in peace our patriot band;
    Though far from nature's limits thrown,
    We trust they find a happier land,
    A brighter Phoebus of their own.

    On the British Invasion 1814

    From France, desponding and betray'd,
    From liberty in ruins laid,
    Exulting Britain has display'd
    Her flag, again to invade us.

    Her myrmidons, with murdering eye,
    Across the broad Atlantic fly
    Prepared again their strength to try,
    And strike our country's standard.

    Lord Wellington's ten thousand slaves,
    And thrice ten thousand, on the waves,
    And thousands more of brags and braves
    Are under sail, and coming

    To burn our towns, to seize our soil,
    To change our laws, our country spoil,
    And Madison to Elba's isle
    To send without redemption.

    In Boston state they hope to find
    A yankee host of kindred mind
    To aid their arms, to rise and bind
    Their countrymen in shackles:

    But no such thing—it will not do—
    At least, not while a Jersey Blue
    Is to the cause of freedom true,
    Or the bold Pennyslvanian.

    A curse on England's frantic schemes!
    Both mad and blind—her monarch dreams
    Of crowns and kingdoms in these climes
    Where kings have had their sentence.

    Though Washington has left our coast,
    Yet other Washingtons we boast,
    Who rise, instructed by his ghost,
    To punish all invaders.

    Go where they will, where'er they land,
    This pilfering, plundering, pirate band,
    They liberty will find at hand
    To hurl them to perdition:

    If in Virginia they appear
    Their fate is fix'd, their doom is near,
    Death in their front and hell their rear—
    So says the gallant buckskin.

    All Carolina is prepared,
    And Charleston doubly on her guard;
    Where, once, sir Peter badly fared,
    So blasted by fort Moultrie.

    If farther south they turn their views,
    With veteran troops, or veteran crews,
    The curse of heaven their march pursues
    To send them all a-packing:

    The tallest mast that sails the wave,
    The longest keel its waters lave,
    Will bring them to an early grave
    On the shores of Pensacola.

    Stanzas to the Memory of General Washington, Who Died December         14,     1799

    Terra tegit, populus maeret, calum habet!
    Departing with the closing age
    To virtue, worth, and freedom true,
    The chief, the patriot, and the sage
    To Vernon bids his last adieu:
    To reap in some exalted sphere
    The just rewards of virtue here.

    Thou, Washington, by heaven design'd
    To act a part in human things
    That few have known among mankind,
    And far beyond the task of kings;
    We hail you now to heaven received,
    Your mighty task on earth achieved.

    While sculpture and her sister arts,
    For thee their choicest wreaths prepare,
    Fond gratitude her share imparts
    And begs thy bones for burial there;
    Where, near Virginia's northern bound
    Swells the vast pile on federal ground.

    To call from their obscure abodes
    The Grecian chief, the Roman sage,
    The kings, the heroes, and the gods
    Who flourish'd in time's earlier age,
    Would be to class them not with you,—
    Superior far, in every view.

    Those ancients of ferocious mould,
    Blood their delight, and war their trade,
    Their oaths profaned, their countries sold,
    And fetter'd nations prostrate laid;
    Could these, like you, assert their claim
    To honor and immortal fame?

    Those monarchs, proud of pillaged spoils,
    With nations shackled in their train,
    Returning from their desperate toils
    With trophies,— and their thousands slain;
    In all they did no traits are known
    Like those that honor'd Washington.

    Who now will save our shores from harms,
    The task to him so long assign'd?
    Who now will rouse our youth to arms
    Should war approach to curse mankind?
    Alas! no more the word you give,
    But in your precepts you survive.

    Ah, gone! and none your place supply,
    Nor will your equal soon appear;
    But that great name can only die
    When memory dwells no longer here,
    When man and all his systems must
    Dissolve, like you, and turn to dust.


Excerpted from Poems and Songs Celebrating America by Ann Braybrooks. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction to the Dover Edition,
JOHN DICKINSON (1732–1808),
THOMAS PAINE (1737–1809),
PHILIP FRENEAU (1752–1832),
TIMOTHY DWIGHT (1752–1817),
JOEL BARLOW (1754–1812),
EDWARD BANGS (1756–1818),
WILLIAM JAY (1769–1853),
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (1779–1843),
HENRY PETERSON (1818–1891),
JULIA WARD HOWE (1819–1910),
WALT WHITMAN (1819–1892),
HERMAN MELVILLE (1819–1891),
THEODORE O'HARA (1820–1867),
JOEL BENTON (1832–1911),
JOHN JAMES PIATT (1835–1917),
BRET HARTE (1836–1902),
JOAQUIN MILLER (1837–1913),
FREDERICK L. HOSMER (1840–1929),
SIDNEY LANIER (1842–1881),
EMMA LAZARUS (1849–1887),
JOHN PHILIP SOUSA (1854–1932),
MINNA IRVING (1856?–1940),
ROBERT BRIDGES (1858–1941),
ELLA HIGGINSON (1861–1940),
EDITH WHARTON (1862–1937),
JOSEPH B. STRAUSS (1870–1938),
JOSHUA HENRY JONES, JR. (1876?–1955),
CARL SANDBURG (1878–1967),
GEORGE M. COHAN (1878–1942),
VACHEL LINDSAY (1879–1931),
JOYCE KILMER (1886–1918),
CLAUDE MCKAY (1890–1948),
JOSEPH SEAMON COTTER, Jr. (1895–1919),
LANGSTON HUGHES (1902–1967),
WOODY GUTHRIE (1912–1967),
MAYA ANGELOU (1928–2014),
MYRA SKLAREW (b. 1934),
JULIA ALVAREZ (b. 1950),
Index of Titles,
Index of First Lines,

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