The Gag

John Pierpont

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Ho! children of the granite hills
That bristle with the hackmatack,
And sparkle with the crystal rills
That hurry toward the Merrimack,
Dam up those rills!--for, while they run,
They all rebuke your Atherton.

Dam up those rills!--they flow so free
O'er icy slope, o'er beetling crag,
That soon they'll all be off at sea,
Beyond the reach of Charlie's gag;--
And when those waters are the sea's,
They'll speak and thunder as they please!

Then freeze them stiff!--but let there come
No winds to chain them;--should they blow,
They'll speak of freedom;--let the dumb
And breathless frost forbid their flow.
Then, all will be so hushed and mum
You'll think your Atherton has come.

Not he!--"Of all the airts that blow,"
He dearly loves the soft South-west,
That tells where rice and cotton grow,
And man is, like the Patriarchs, blest
(So say some eloquent divines)
With God-given slaves; and concubines.

Let not the winds go thus at large,
That now o'er all your hills career,--
Your Sunapee and Kearsarge,--
Nay, nay, methinks the bounding deer
That, like the winds, sweep round their hill,
Should all be gagged, to keep them still.

And all your big and little brooks,
That rush down laughing towards the sea,
Your Lampreys, Squams, and Contoocooks,
That show a spirit to be free,
Should learn they 're not to take such airs;--
Your mouths are stopped;--then why not theirs?

Plug every spring that dares to play
At bubble, in its gravel cup,
Or babble, as it runs away!--
Nay,--catch and coop your eagles up!
It is not meet that thy should fly,
And scream of freedom, through your sky.

Ye've not done yet! Your very trees,--
Those sturdy pines, their heads that wag
In concert with the mountain breeze,--
Unless they're silenced by a gag,
Will whisper,--"We will stand our ground!
Our heads are up! Our hearts are sound!"

Yea, Atherton, the upright firs
O'er thee exult, and taunt thee thus,--
"Though THOU art fallen, no feller stirs
His foot, or lifts his axe at us.
'Hell from beneath, is moved at thee,'
Since thou hast crouched to Slavery.

"Thou saidst, 'I will exalt my throne"
Above the stars; and, in the north
Will sit upon the mount alone,
And send my Slavery "Orders" forth'!
Our White Hills spurn thee from their sight;
Their blasts shall speed thee in thy flight.

"Go! breathe amid the aguish damps
That gather o'er the Congaree;--
Go! hide thee in the cypress swamps
That darken o'er the black Santee,--
And be the moss, above thy head,
The gloomy drapery of thy bed!

"The moss, that creeps from bough to bough,
And hangs in many a dull festoon;--
There, peeping through thy curtain, thou
Mayest catch some 'glimpses of the moon';
Or, better, twist of it a string,
Noose in thy neck, repent, and--swing!"

Sons of the granite hills, your birds
Your winds, your waters, and your trees,
Of faith and freedom speak, in words
That should be felt in times like these;
Their voice comes to you from the sky!
In them, God speaks of Liberty.

Sons of the granite hills, awake!
Ye're on a mighty stream afloat,
With all your liberties at stake;--
A faithless pilot's on your boat!
And, while ye've lain asleep, ye're snagged
Nor can ye cry for help,--YE'RE GAGGED!

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