Sir Gordon holds the frontier line — all honour to his name —
Save only the stronghold to the south, near by Niagara’s stream —
Fort Erie of dismal remembrance, far up from the cataract,
Which the foe has strengthened all anew, since last it was attacked;
And as he thinks of the laurels won, on the field of Lundy’s Lane,
He fain would have the place re-ta’en, ere ends the year’s campaign.
That fort had fallen, the invader’s prize, a month or so before,
An easy prey to General Brown withstanding Britain’s power;
But amplified and girt around, as a citadel may be
A menace it stands to Drummond’s braves, who would the country free;
And its demilunes and bastioned wall, its batteries all in train,
Are his to seize in England’s name, her prowess to sustain.
And still, of a summer’s day, the book lies open to our hand,
As we linger amid the ruins, its tales to understand.
In the light and shade of the landscape, dotted o’er with homestead cheer,
We still may trace how the besiegers came to test the arts of war.
From the lintel-stone of some ruined keep, we may dream of the bloodstained din,
In the open field or round the walls, where mastery sought to win.
Who says the rival nations think to end their long-drawn feud?
Has any one heard in the ravelin such tiding there intrude?
Nay, rather, Sir Gordon is on his way, past the cataract’s echoing roar,
Awaking the hamlets, one by one, with nought but the tidings of war,
See, yonder, is where his army lay, beyond gun-range of the fort,
Prepared to dare every danger that lurked in its garrisoned court!
And the August sunsets come and go, like fringes of tragedy,
With bastion responding to battery, to the throbbing of woodland and lea;
While Sir Gordon is ever evolving his plans, to compass the place about,
In a nearer approach to its front and rear, from ravelin to redoubt;
And when he learns of Dobbs’ success, he decrees a night attack,
With three of his trusty colonels, the assault in line to make.
’Tis Fisher commands the wing to the right:
’Tis Towson’s he seeks to beset;
And its twenty-four pounder greets his advance,
From its ominous parapet.
Will he dare these throbs of disaster?
Will he reach the edge of the lake,
Where under or over the palisades,
An inner attack he may make?
Yea, his courage will dare, whate’er the despair,
All blasts from that cavern of wrath,
As he keeps hovering near, his comrades to cheer,
Amid the turmoil of death.
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