Gateway to the Classics: Historic Poems and Ballads by Rupert S. Holland
 
Historic Poems and Ballads by  Rupert S. Holland

My Maryland

T HIS song shared popularity with "Dixie" among the Southern soldiers during the Civil War. At the outbreak of the war it was not certain whether the state of Maryland would remain in the Union or would secede. Feeling ran high in Baltimore, and when the Sixth Massachusetts regiment arrived in that city on April 19, 1861, on its way to Washington, crowds of Confederate sympathizers filled the streets and attacked the troops. The soldiers finally had to fire to secure their safety, and a number of citizens were killed and more wounded.

This roused even greater resentment among those who wanted Maryland to secede. The Federal government at once sent troops under General Butler to Baltimore and Annapolis, and the Union party, which was actually much stronger than the Confederate party in the state, held Maryland to the Union.

The author of "My Maryland" wrote the poem immediately on hearing of the attack at Baltimore, and when it was thought that Maryland might secede. He was of course an ardent Confederate sympathizer. Miss Hattie Cary of Baltimore set the words to the old college air of "Lauriger Horatius," and it soon became almost as popular around Southern camp-fires as "Dixie."

My Maryland

by James Ryder Randall

The despot's heel is on thy shore,

Maryland!

His torch is at thy temple door,

Maryland!

Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore

And be the battle queen of yore,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Hark to an exiled son's appeal,

Maryland!

My mother State, to thee I kneel,

Maryland!

For life or death, for woe or weal,

Thy peerless chivalry reveal,

And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Thou wilt not cower in the dust,

Maryland!

Thy beaming sword shall never rust,

Maryland!

Remember Carroll's sacred trust,

Remember Howard's warlike thrust,

And all thy slumberers with the just,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Come! 'tis the red dawn of the day,

Maryland!

Come with thy panoplied array,

Maryland!

With Ringgold's spirit for the fray,

With Watson's blood at Monterey,

With fearless Lowe and dashing May,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Dear Mother, burst the tyrant's chain,

Maryland!

Virginia shall not call in vain,

Maryland!

She meets her sisters on the plain,

"Sic semper! " 'tis the proud refrain

That baffles minions back amain,

Maryland!

Arise in majesty again,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,

Maryland!

Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,

Maryland!

Come to thy own heroic throng

Stalking with Liberty along,

And chant thy dauntless slogan-song,

Maryland, my Maryland!


I see the blush upon thy cheek,

Maryland!

But thou vast ever bravely meek,

Maryland!

But lo! there surges forth a shriek,

From hill to hill, from creek to creek,

Potomac calls to Chesapeake,

Maryland, my Maryland!


Thou wilt not yield to Vandal toll,

Maryland!

Thou wilt not crook to his control,

Maryland!

Better the fire upon thee roll,

Better the shot, the blade, the bowl,

Than crucifixion of the soul,

Maryland, my Maryland!


I hear the distant thunder-hum,

Maryland!

The "Old Line's" bugle, fife, and drum;

Maryland!

She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb;

Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum—

She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come!

Maryland, my Maryland!


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