Breed's Hill ~ The Burning Of Charlestown

   This song was published in 1775. The song is attributed to a volunteer in the Patriot army, Joel Barlow. The music to which the lyrics were set is unknown at this time.

Palmyra's prospect, with her tumbling walls, Huge piles of ruin heap'd on every side,
From each beholder, tears of pity calls, Sad monuments, extending far and wide.
Yet far more dismal to the patriot's eye, The drear remains of Charlestown's former show,
Behind whose walls did hundred warriors die, And Britain's centre felt the fatal blow.
To see a town so elegantly form'd, Such buildings graced with every curious art,
Spoil'd in a moment, on a sudden storm'd, Must fill with indignation every heart.
But when we find the reasons of her fate To be but trifling ~ trifling did I say?
For being noble! daring to be great, Nor calmly yielding to tyrannic sway !
To see the relies of that once famed place, Pointing to Heaven, as 'twere in ardent cry,
By lawless power robb'd of every grace, Yet calling bolts of vengeance from on high:
To find, I say, such dealings with mankind, To see those royal robbers planted near
Those glorious buildings, turning into wind, And loath to mingle with the common air.
And such chastisement coming from a state Who calls herself our parent, nurse, and friend -
Must rouse each soul that's noble, frank, and great, And urge us on our lives and all to spend!
Oh! spot once graceful; but, alas! no more; Till signs shall end, and time itself shall cease,
Thy name shall live, and on fame's pinions soar, To mark grim blackness on Great Britain's face.
Nor shall the blood of heroes on the plain, Who nobly fell that day in freedom's cause,
Lie unreveng'd, though with thy thousands slain, Whilst there's a King who fears nor minds thy laws.
Shall Cain who madly spilt his brother's blood, Receive such curses from the God of all?
Is not that Sovereign still as just and good, To hear the cries of children when they call?
Yes, there's a God whose laws are still the same, Whose years are endless, and his power is great;
He is our God: Jehovah is his name; With him we trust our sore oppressed state.
When he shall rise (oh, Britain, dread the day, Nor can I stretch the period of thy fate);
What heart of steel, what tyrant then shall sway, A throne that's sinking by oppression's weight?
Thy crimes, oh North, shall then like spectres stand, Nor Charlestown hindmost in the ghastly roll,
And faithless Gage, who gave the dread command, Shall find dire torments gnaw upon his soul.
Yea, in this world, we trust that ills so dread, Which fills the nation with such matchless woes,
Shall fall with double vengeance on thy head, Nor 'scape those minions which thy court compose.