Southern Poets and Poems, Part V

A series by Clyde Wilson

Homage to Revolutionary Heroes

DOLLEY PAYNE MADISON (1768—1849) was the wife of President James Madison.

                             Lafayette

Born, nurtured, wedded, prized, within the pale

Of peers and princes, high in camp—at court—

He hears, in joyous youth, a wild report,

Swelling the murmurs of the Western gale,

Of a young people struggling to be free!

   Straight quitting all, across the wave he flies,

   Aids with his sword, wealth, blood, the high emprise!

And shares the glories of its victory,

    Then comes for fifty years a high romance

Of toils, reverses, sufferings, in the cause

    Of man and justice, liberty and France,

Crowned, at the last, with hope and wide applause.

    Champion of Freedom!  Well thy race was run!

    All time shall hail thee, Europe’s noblest Son!

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HENRY LEE (1756—1818), was an outstanding cavalry officer in the War of American Independence, Governor of Virginia, and father of Robert E. Lee.  This is a part of his eulogy for his comrade Washington.

                                 Henry Lee on George Washington

First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.  He was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life;  pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere;  uniform, dignified and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him, as were the effects of that example lasting.

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THOMAS JEFFERSON (1732-1826).   Here is Jefferson’s self-composed epitaph.  Note he does not consider the high offices he held in the U.S. federal government as his most important achievements.

Here was buried THOMAS JEFFERSON, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of  the Statute  of  Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of  the University of Virginia

Born April 2, 1743 O.S.

 Died July 4, 1826

* * * * * *

CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY (1749-1825) of South Carolina was one of the most outstanding figures of the American War of Independence and the early national period.  This is his memorial tablet in St. Michael’s Church, Charleston.

                                              To the memory of

          GENERAL CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY

one of the founders of

the American Republic.

In war

he was the companion in arms

and the friend of Washington.

In peace

he enjoyed his unchanging confidence

and maintained with enlightened zeal

the principles of his administration

and of the Constitution.

As a Statesman

he bequeathed to his country the sentiment,

Millions for defence

not a cent for tribute.

As a lawyer,

his learning was various and profound

his principles pure, his practice liberal.

With all the accomplishments

of the gentleman

he combined the virtues of the patriot

And the piety of the Christian.

His name

is recorded in the history of his country

inscribed on the charter of her liberties,

And cherished in the affections of her citizens.

Obiit XVI August MDCCCXXV

Aetatis, LXXIX

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JOHN CHARLES MCNEILL (1874-1907) was Poet Laureate of North Carolina whose work will appear later in this series.  He wrote this verse in honour of the naval hero of the American Revolution John Paul Jones, whose first American home was North Carolina.  Jones died in Paris in 1792.  McNeill probably wrote before 1906 when Jones’s body was brought back for burial at Annapolis.

  John Paul Jones                                

Twice exiled, let his ashes rest

At home, afar, or in the wave,

But keep his great heart with us, lest

Our nation’s greatness find its grave;

And, while the vast deep listens by,

When armored wrong makes terms to right,

Keep on our lips his proud reply,

“Sir, I have but begun to fight!”

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