Classical Allusions, Yours for a Penny

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Tune — “The Star Spangled Banner,

Lo! the chieftain is gone from the scene of his fame,
But the halo of ages shall gather around it,
For his sword waved in Justice and Liberty’s name
And Liberty’s hand with her myrtle has crown’d it;
He has mounted on high to the patriot’s sky,
While his country was last in the heart and the sigh,
But joy! tho’ the hero has gone to his rest,
His mantle is left to the Hope of the West.

He shall wear it in glory, in honor, in power,
In despite of abstraction, of knaves and of treason,
And the venal shall tremble, the coward shall cower,
Like ephemeral insects that flutter their season;
Yes, the noble and great, in the forum of state,
By the dictum of freemen, the fiat of fate,
Shall rule o’er the land that his labors have blest,
Our Harry, the dauntless, and pride of the West.

He has stood like a rock when the tempest has roared.
And the gallant have trembled at dangers surrounding,
‘Mid the war of great minds his warm spirit has soared,
In the triumph of genius the proudest confounding,
The tyrant’s strong chain he has riven amain —
Bear witness, fair Greece, and Columbia’s plain;
Then deep in our hearts with the noblest and best
We’ll shrine him, our Harry, the Hope of the West.

Look o’er the proud scroll of your glorious names.
From the light of to-day, through the long lapse of ages,
To souls that were honor’s, and virtue’s, and fame’s.
Whose fire and devotion illume the world’s pages —
Then turn in your pride where the whole are allied —
To the statesman unyielding, the patriot guide,
And point, while your gratitude beams all expressed,
To Harry, our glory, and STAR OF THE WEST.

Fill, fill to the brim in the lymph of your springs,
And toast him, fair Liberty’s peerless defender;
And bear it, ye breezes, on wondering wings,
Wherever Aurora diffuses her splendor.
Our banner’s unfurled, it shall BEACON the world,
‘Till the Dagon of doubt and abstraction is hurled
And we throne in his place whom his country loves best —
Our Harry, the glory, the Pride of the West.


The chieftain who is gone William Henry Harrison, the oldest man to that date ever elected president (it would be 140 years before an older one was elected).  In order to prove that he still had vigor, Harrison walked bare-headed and without an overcoat or gloves in freezing rain in his inaugural parade,  then, still bare-headed, delivered a stem-winder of a speech (at an hour and forty-five minutes the longest inaugural speech to date).  He soon caught cold, the cold turned to pneumonia, and, in the pre-antibiotic world, the pneumonia turned to death. Harrison’s term, at barely a month, was the shortest of any US president, and during it he accomplished precisely nothing.

This song, I hope, was never sung, even though I rather like the ephemeral insects, the Dagon of doubt, and the toast of purest lymph.

The pride of the west, the star of the west, and the hope of the west, our Harry, was Henry Clay.

(For their side, the Democrats claimed that Clay had broken all ten of the Ten Commandments in ways that were never specified because they were too vile to be written.  Given that Clay was a known drinker, gambler, duelist, womanizer, and slave-master, one can only wonder at what it could have been they weren’t mentioning.)

Tomorrow: The Clay Flag

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