THE GREAT BELL ROLAND.*

THE GREAT BELL ROLAND.* (*The famous bell Roland, of Ghent, was an object of great affection to the people, because it rang to arm them when Liberty was in danger.)

BY THEODORE TILTON.

(Suggested by the President’s first call for Volunteers.)

I.

TOLL! Roland, toll!

In old St. Bavon’s tower,
At midnight hour,
The great bell Roland spoke!
All souls that slept in Ghent awoke!
What meant the thunder-stroke?
Why trembled wife and maid?
Why caught each man his blade?
Why echoed every street
With tramp of thronging feet?
All flying to the city’s wall!
It was the warning call
That Freedom stood in peril of a foe!
And even timid hearts grew bold
Whenever Roland tolled,
And every hand a sword could hold!
So acted men
Like patriots then
Three hundred years ago!

II.

Toll! Roland, toll!

Bell never yet was hung,
Between whose lips there swung
So grand a tongue!
If men be patriots still,
At the first sound
True hearts will bound,
Great souls will thrill!
Then toll and strike the test
Through each man’s breast,
Till loyal hearts shall stand confest,–
And may God’s wrath smite all the rest!

III.

Toll! Roland, toll!

Not now in old St. Bavon’s tower–
Not now at midnight hour–
But here, –this side the sea!–
Toll here, in broad, bright day!–
For not by night awaits
A noble foe without the gates,
But perjured friends within betray,
And do the deed at noon!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Thy sound is not too soon!
To arms! Ring out the leader’s call!
Re-echo it from East to West
Till every hero’s breast
Shall swell beneath a soldier’s crest!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Till cottager from cottage wall
Snatch pouch and powder-horn and gun!
The sire bequeathed them to the son
When only half their work was done!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Till swords from scabbards leap!
Toll! Roland, toll!
What tears can widows weep
Less bitter than when brave men fall!
Toll! Roland, toll!
In shadowed hut and hall
Shall lie the soldier’s pall,
And hearts shall break while graves are filled!
Amen! so God hath willed!
And may His grace anoint us all!

IV.

Toll! Roland, toll!

The Dragon on thy tower
Stands sentry to this hour,
And Freedom so stands safe in Ghent,
And merrier bells now ring,
And in the land’s serene content,
Men shout, “God save the King!”
Until the skies are rent!
So let it be!
A kingly king is he
Who keeps his people free!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Ring out across the sea!
No longer They, but We,
Have now such need of thee!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Nor ever may thy throat
Keep dumb its warning note,
Till Freedom’s perils be outbraved!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Till Freedom’s flag, wherever waved,
Shall shadow not a man enslaved!
Toll! Roland, toll!
From northern lake to southern strand!
Toll! Roland, toll!
Till friend and foe, at thy command,
Once more shall clasp each other’s hand,
And shout, one-voiced, “God save the land!”
And love the land that God hath saved!
Toll! Roland, toll!

Originally posted 2008-05-30 12:22:13.

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I'm a lover of God and His Son Jesus Christ. In addition I love to make yesterday's words come alive through the republishing of good and profitable books of old. The Civil War project is an ongoing labor of love. - Karan
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