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Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes


"Old Ironsides" is a poem written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. This poem is Holmes' most celebrated writing and his most well known. "Old Ironsides" is the nickname of a warship that battled in the War of 1812. The real name of the ship is "Constitution", and it was a 44-gun frigate.

"Old Ironsides" is a three stanza poem with eight lines in each. It's rhyme scheme is ABCBDEFD in the first stanza, ABABCDED in the second, and ABCBDEFE in the third. The poem is written in iambic foot.


Old Ironsides

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar;
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more! 

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea! 

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the God of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

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