Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Leander's Battle by Bob Atkinson

Leander's Battle

(c)2012 Bob Atkinson

in November, the year before
she'd been launched amid great cheer
her namesake fought many hard battles
had been captured and then released

many seas had seen the old one's keel
many ships and captains too
had found great glory or harsh shame
in her, as soldiers and sailors tend to do

now a new form sailed the waves
christened with the Leander name
but on this night her broadsides held
not victory to add to her fame

  on the waves was thirsted 
that martial will of man
to gain control over others
always was their devious plan

yet here in the harbor of Baltimore
was assigned only bombardment duty
had sought the glory of pitched battle
like fighting Napoleon's strongest navy

how could she find lasting fame
when all her guns were trained
not on a man o' war
but on the buttressed shore?

the fort, McHenry, stood so still
no maneuver or return fire there
no running fight, was bombed at night
with five dozen guns aflame

she gave as good as a 4th rate could
shoving terror to the souls
who manned the fort and kept the fight
from moving quickly to the shore

in the morning she had seen
the flag of rebellion wave
quite tattered, the fort was battered
yet still flew glory upon that stake

the pole it had been raised there on
seemed to peacefully flutter the flag
here in the light that passed the night
still stood, was all that mattered

so nothing much caused a change
in where the battle flowed
except upon one ship called "Thundering”
where Francis Key had seen the glory

an eighty gun ship of the line
captured from the French at Aboukir
seemed destined to lead the conquest
of those upstarts, the colonist curs

bombarded in the dark of night
had not been left to rest
the fort stayed true to its belief
in honor over bartered peace

stripes and stars shined ever brightly
seemed they ever would
never leaving conquest to those whom
her people grossly misunderstood

to not strike colors in the glow
of such a fiery rain
held pride above all mortal trials
in this forceful warrior's game

Key, the poet, saw Leander
in her glory void
not take that banner to the ground
with guns ablaze for hours

left him feeling pride so deep
that he wrote the whole story down
gave his poem to the world
so they could recall the sounds

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