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[167] passage of the Stamp Act, to continue until the close of the Revolution. These spring from the heat of the conflict, and are as replete with patriotism as they are deficient in literary merit. Yet they admirably fulfilled their purpose of arousing public spirit, and many of them were known and sung everywhere. John Dickinson's Patriot's appeal, which begins
Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall,

gave rise to a parody which was in turn parodied in the famous Massachusetts liberty song. Almost equally popular were John Mason's Liberty's call, Thomas Paine's Liberty Tree, and Timothy Dwight's Columbia, with its refrain
Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise,
The queen of the world and the child of the skies.

But the one ballad that shows a spark of poetry is Nathan Hale, which commemorates the capture and death of the young American spy. It opens with a promise that is scarcely sustained throughout the poem:

The breezes went steadily thro the tall pines,
A saying “Oh! Hu-sh,” a saying “Oh! Hu-sh,”
As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse,
For Hale in the bush, for Hale in the bush.

Best known of the purely humorous ballads is Francis Hopkinson's Battle of the kegs (1778), which tells of the alarm felt by the British over some kegs that the Americans had charged with powder and had set floating in the Delaware River.

The hundreds of patriotic ballads, songs, and odes that appeared after the Revolution, though more ambitious and “literary,” seem less spontaneous and sincere than the earlier verse, which called a nation to arms; and for all their flaunting of the stars and stripes, they leave the reader cold. Scarcely a poet who wrote between 1780 and 1807 failed to compose at least one such poem; but, it is safe to say, the only patriotic ballads of permanent merit written between 1725 and 1807 are the sea poems of Freneau.

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