Monday, December 19, 2011

A Call to Action

To a generation cowed into obedience to a corrupt, oppressive elite of academics, corporate executives, bankers, politicians, etc., Henry Timrod's 'Carolina' is a welcome antidote.  There is no need for armed battle, but we could gain much by taking to heart its underlying message:  the duty to put forward manly resistance to an enemy intent on doing us harm.

By Henry Timrod
The despot treads thy sacred sands,
Thy pines give shelter to his bands,
Thy sons stand by with idle hands,
He breathes at ease thy airs of balm,
He scorns the lances of thy palm;
Oh! who shall break thy craven calm,
Thy ancient fame is growing dim,
A spot is on thy garment's rim;
Give to the winds thy battle hymn,
Call on thy children of the hill,
Wake swamp and river, coast and rill,
Rouse all thy strength and all thy skill,
Cite wealth and science, trade and art,
Touch with thy fire the cautious mart,
And pour thee through the people's heart,
Till even the coward spurns his fears,
And all thy fields and fens and meres
Shall bristle like thy palm with spears,
Hold up the glories of thy dead;
Say how thy elder children bled,
And point to Eutaw’s battle-bed,
Tell how the patriot's soul was tried,
And what his dauntless breast defied;
How Rutledge ruled and Laurens died,
Cry! till thy summons heard at last,
Shall fall like Marion's bugle-blast
Re-echoed from the haunted Past,
I hear a murmur as of waves
That grope their way through sunless caves,
Like bodies struggling in their graves,
And now it deepens; slow and grand
It swells, as, rolling to the land,
An ocean broke upon thy strand,
Shout! let it reach the startled Huns!
And roar with all thy festal guns!
It is the answer of thy sons,
They will not wait to hear thee call;
From Sachem's Head to Sumter's wall
Resounds the voice of hut and hall,
No! thou hast not a stain, they say,
Or none save what the battle-day
Shall wash in seas of blood away,
Thy skirts indeed the foe may part,
Thy robe be pierced with sword and dart,
They shall not touch thy noble heart,
Ere thou shalt own the tyrant's thrall
Ten times ten thousand men must fall;
Thy corpse may hearken to his call,
When, by thy bier, in mournful throngs
The women chant thy mortal wrongs,
'T will be their own funereal songs,
From thy dead breast by ruffians trod
No helpless child shall look to God;
All shall be safe beneath thy sod,
Girt with such wills to do and bear,
Assured in right, and mailed in prayer,
Thou wilt not bow thee to despair,
Throw thy bold banner to the breeze!
Front with thy ranks the threatening seas
Like thine own proud armorial trees,
Fling down thy gauntlet to the Huns,
And roar the challenge from thy guns;
Then leave the future to thy sons,

(Note:  Henry Timrod's poems are now part of the public domain.  This poem is from the Nabu Press reprint of Poems of Henry Timrod, with Memoir and Portrait, memorial ed. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899), pp. 141-4.  My thanks to the folks at the web site Poetry and Music of the War Between the States for providing a fairly good transcription of the poem online:

1 comment:

  1. It is very good that the poet, Henry Timrod, is not alive today to experience the evil which the enemy has wrought on his sweet Carolina: corporatism, consumerism, statism and a loss of republican (Please do not confuse with the party!) virtues: cardinal, capital and Christian, save for a remnant found in enclaves, strongholds, nooks and crannies like the Old Narnians. I foresee no Prince Caspian or coming of the high kings for Timrod's Carolina. In the upcoming political primary, as one watches the currently trending polls, one notes that the enemy of Carolina and indeed the entire South is now the preferred party. The candidates of that party, with the possible exception of one, represent corporatism, consumerism and statism, with the state's attendant warfare and welfare.

    Of course, the post-Wilsonian Democratic Party exploited the loyalty of the South up until 1972 and then totally abandoned the South as the party moved inexorably into the liberal with its leftist agendas. The South, responding to the vacuum, then abandoned itself and embraced the Republican Party, the party of bankers, stock jobbers and paper aristocracy, a party which since Nixon's "Southern strategy" has also exploited the virtues of the South, namely our loyalty and our dedication to things martial, getting our votes in election after election while working to hollow out our traditions, customs and habits, those things which make us who we are.

    If one may play on words, the last lines which Timrod indited, indict us, the sons; for it would seem that the future was ill left to us by our courageous antecedents. We have not done well with our inheritance.