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Old Ironsides

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes, American Romantic poet, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 29, 1809, and died on October 7, 1894. He is considered a Fireside Poet, or part of a group of New England authors that wrote material very suitable to be read as entertainment to members of a family, often read aloud in front of a residential fireplace.

He also is a famous Boston Brahmin, or an elitist-philanthropist with great generosity. Holmes gave the Massachusetts State House the nickname The Hub of the Solar System which led to Boston being called The Hub.


Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! 
 Long has it waved on high, 
And many an eye has danced to see 
 That banner in the sky; 
Beneath it rung the battle shout, 
 And burst the cannon's roar; — 
The meteor of the ocean air 
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, 
 Where knelt the vanquished foe, 
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood, 
 And waves were white below, 
No more shall feel the victor's tread, 
 Or know the conquered knee; — 
The harpies of the shore shall pluck 
 The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk 
 Should sink beneath the wave; 
Her thunders shook the mighty deep, 
 And there should be her grave; 
Nail to the mast her holy flag, 
 Set every threadbare sail, 
And give her to the god of storms, 
 The lightning and the gale!

U.S.S. Constitution 
Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 


U.S.S. Constitution Museum 
Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 


Old Ironsides
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