Columbus, by Joaquin Miller

Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone;
Speak, Admiral, what shall I say?”
“Why say, sail on! and on!”

“My men grow mut’nous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave wash’d his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say, at break of day:
‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’”

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanch’d mate said;
“Why, now, not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Admiral, and say——”
He said: “Sail on! and on!”

They sailed, they sailed, then spoke his mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth to-night,
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one word;
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leaped as a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! and on!”

Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And thro’ the darkness peered that night.
Ah, darkest night! and then a speck,—
A light! a light! a light! a light!
It grew—a star-lit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn;
He gained a world! he gave that world
Its watch-word: “On! and on!”

My Old Kentucky Home, by Stephen Collins Foster

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home;
‘Tis summer, the darkeys are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe, and the meadow’s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By-’n'-by hard times comes a-knocking at the door:—
Then my old Kentucky home, good-night!

Weep no more, my lady,
O, weep no more to-day!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home, far away.

They hunt no more for the ‘possum and the coon,
On the meadow, the hill, and the shore;
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.
The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow, where all was delight;
The time has come when the darkeys have to part:—
Then my old Kentucky home, good-night!

The head must bow, and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darkey may go;
A few more days, and the trouble all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow.
A few more days for to tote the weary load,—
No matter, ’twill never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road:—
Then my old Kentucky home, good-night!

Weep no more, my lady,
O, weep no more to-day!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home, far away.

The Death of Napoleon, by Isaac McClellan

Wild was the night, yet a wilder night
Hung round the soldier’s pillow;
In his bosom there waged a fiercer fight
Than the fight on the wrathful billow.

A few fond mourners were kneeling by,
The few that his stern heart cherished;
They knew, by his glazed and unearthly eye,
That life had nearly perished.

They knew by his awful and kingly look,
By the order hastily spoken,
That he dreamed of days when the nations shook,
And the nations’ hosts were broken.

He dreamed that the Frenchman’s sword still slew,
And triumphed the Frenchman’s eagle,
And the struggling Austrian fled anew,
Like the hare before the beagle.

The bearded Russian he scourged again,
The Prussian’s camp was routed,
And again on the hills of haughty Spain
His mighty armies shouted.

Over Egypt’s sands, over Alpine snows,
At the pyramids, at the mountain,
Where the wave of the lordly Danube flows,
And by the Italian fountain,

On the snowy cliffs where mountain streams
Dash by the Switzer’s dwelling,
He led again, in his dying dreams,
His hosts, the proud earth quelling.

Again Marengo’s field was won,
And Jena’s bloody battle;
Again the world was overrun,
Made pale at his cannon’s rattle.

He died at the close of that darksome day,
A day that shall live in story;
In the rocky land they placed his clay,
“And left him alone with his glory.”