Paul Jones

A poem by John Charles McNeill

A century of silent suns
Have set since he was laid on sleep,
And now they bear with booming guns
And streaming banners o'er the deep
A withered skin and clammy hair
Upon a frame of human bones:
Whose corse? We neither know nor care,
Content to name it John Paul Jones.

His dust were as another's dust;
His bones--what boots it where they lie?
What matter where his sword is rust,
Or where, now dark, his eagle eye?
No foe need fear his arm again,
Nor love, nor praise can make him whole;
But o'er the farthest sons of men
Will brood the glory of his soul.

Careless though cenotaph or tomb
Shall tower his country's monument,
Let banners float and cannon boom,
A million-throated shout be spent,
Until his widowed sea shall laugh
With sunlight in her mantling foam,
While, to his tomb or cenotaph,
We bid our hero welcome home.

Twice exiled, let his ashes rest
At home, afar, or in the wave,
But keep his great heart with us, lest
Our nation's greatness find its grave;
And, while the vast deep listens by,
When armored wrong makes terms to right,
Keep on our lips his proud reply,
"Sir, I have but begun to fight!"

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