My morning commute (with NPR) has informed me that today is National Poem in your Pocket Day. While this may surprise many, I am a fan of poetry. I thought about posting If by Rudyard Kipling. I thought about The Patriot Pastor by Thomas Buchanan Read. But, I finally settled on one that has been a favorite of mine through the years.
Joseph Hopkinson was a member of Congress from 1814 to 1819 and a attorney who argued the landmark cases McCulloch v. Maryland and Dartmouth College v. Woodward before the United States Supreme Court. His father, Francis Hopkinson, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He is most famous for writing Hail, Columbia, which was an unofficial National Anthem prior to the adoption of The Star Spangled Banner in the early 20th century. Hail, Columbia is still used as the song to announce the arrival of the Vice President of the United States. However, this is not my favorite poem. Instead, a poem which is much lesser known, but even more powerful fills that role.
Farewell, Peace was written during the leadup to the War of 1812. It is a stirring call to arms and strong reminder of our duty to our country.
Farewell, Peace! Another crisis calls us to “the last appeal,”
Made when monarchs and their vices leave no argument but steel.
When injustice and oppression dare avow the tyrant’s plea.
Who would recommend submission? Virtue bids us to be free
History spreads her page before us, Time unrolls his ample scroll;
Truth unfolds th em, to assure us, states, united, ne’er can fall.
See, in annals Greek and Roman, what immortal deeds we find;
When those gallant sons of woman in their country’s cause combined.
Sons of Freedom! Brave descendants from a race of heroes tried,
To preserve our independence let all Europ be defied.
Let not all the world, united, rob us of one sacred right:
Every patriot’s heart delighted in his country’s cause to fight.
Come then, War! With hearts elated to thy standard we will fly;
Every bosom animated either to live free or die
May the wretch that shrinks from duty, or deserts the glorious strife,
Never know the smile of beauty, nor the blessing of a wife.