Kids Poems » The Twenty-fourth - Indian Poems
"Grandpa, what is the Twenty-fourth,
That's coming so soon, they say ?
Who made it, and what was it made about,
To be such a splendid, happy day? "
Then over the face of the gray-haired man
A thoughtful expression came,
That lit his cheek with a sudden flush
And his eye like a quickened flame,
And he lifted up to his knee and breast
The darling six-year-old,
Silent a moment, while through his mind
The hurrying visions rolled.
Then first he told of the Pilgrim band,
And the barren Plymouth shore,
With the cruel Indian foe behind
And the stormy sea before.
Of the weary years of toil and fear
Before they dwelt at ease;
And then how a tyrant's cruel might
Reached them even across the seas ;
And how they covered the new-made graves
All over with wheat-fields green
Their lessened numbers these would have shown,
Could the Indian foe have seen.
And then he told how the king shut off
The ships with the sugar trade,
And how the Pilgrims at Boston Bay
Of the ocean a tea-pot made.
Then many a battle followed fast,
And many a noble name,
Marquis' and count's and baron's too,
With our generals linked their fame;
How the words that Patrick Henry spoke
Like martial music rolled,
And his eye grew moist, when the suffering
At Valley Forge was told ;
But when he told of Bunker Hill,
And Marion's noble men,
Of Lord Dacie's and Lord Cornwallis' defeats,
His eye grew bright again.
"At last," said grandpa, " they threw off
The English monarch's yoke,
And when the independence, bell
Its peal of freedom spoke,
Oh, never upon the broad, green earth
Were happier men than they,
For their work was built upon God's own rock,
To last upon earth always !
' Then ' neath its shelter and its care
It pleased our God to raise
Another work of nobler kind
To his own glorious praise.
A perfect government he gave
To bless the homes of men,
And then the gospel's plan to link
High heaven with earth again.
' But, oh, the hearts of men forgot
Whence all their rights were won,
And they oppression's power revived
Ere seventy years had gone !
'Our honored patriot fathers' names
Our country still reveres,
But Joseph's name they wrote in blood
And in his people's tears.
' Then, like the Puritans of old,
The Saints left all behind,
And crossed the trackless deserts wild,
New homes and peace to find.
Here, too, the Indian foe they met,
Famine and pain and cold;
Here, too, oppression followed them,
With greed and hate untold.
'Twas on July the Twenty-fourth
The resting-place was found.
The Great Salt Lake spread out ahead,
And mountains walled them round.
Then Brig ham knew the sacred spot,
And saw with prophet's eyes
A splended city; in its midst
A glorious temple rise.
He saw on barren Ensign's height
Our country's flag float free
And gave the word to plant it there
' For God and Liberty. '
"Long years they dwelt in sweet content,
And as the years came round,
The ' Fourth ' and then the ' Twenty-fourth '
With honors due were crowned.
Such grand parades as then we had!
The guns could scarce grow cold
Before we had them out again
And all the past retold.
" But then there came a governor
Who stopped our loudest fun,
And what is Independence-day
When boys can't fire a gun?
I'll tell you what it seemed to me
Just like the ' Fourth ' was dead.
Of course, we played the same old tunes
And the Constitution read;
But when the flag snaps in the breeze
To the martial music's sound,
And we've got the spirit of '76'
We want the cannon 'round.
" But stop, who is't I'm ta king to ?
These little Mormon boys,
Who've never heard, and never missed,
The good old times and noise;
They look with wondering eyes on me,
As though some legend old
Had fired my brain and loosed my tongue
That were so still and cold.
' ' But I tell you, grandsons all of mine,
Listen, and don't forget,
We' ll have the old 'Fourth' and the 'Twenty-fourth,'
And the cannon with them yet.
" We'll have the brave ' Battalion Boys'
And the â€˜Nauvoo Legion' too,
And will sing the old-time Mormon songs
Just as we used to do.
â€œ Now, Johnny, slide from off my knee
And stand up in my chair,
I've got three cheers that I want to ring
On the hushed and empty air.
Three cheers for our country and her flag,
The best, the dearest still;
Three cheers for our Rocky Mountain home
And the Saints let come what will.
Three cheers for the time when, East and West,
From the South to the frozen North,
We may sing and pray in our temples free,
' Neath our flag, on our ' Twenty-fourth.' "