How We Kept The Day

by Will McKendree Carleton

Will Carleton

The great procession came up the street,
With clatter of hoofs and tramp of feet;
There was General Jones to guide the van,
And Corporal Jinks, his right-hand man;
And each was riding his high horse,
And each had epaulettes, of course;
And each had a sash of the bloodiest red,
And each had a shako on his head;
And each had a sword by his left side,
And each had his mustache newly dyed;
And that was the way
We kept the day,
The great, the grand, the glorious day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With a battle or two, the histories say,)
Our National Independence!

The great procession came up the street,
With loud da capo, and brazen repeat;
There was Hans, the leader, a Teuton born,
A sharp who worried the E flat horn;
And Baritone Jake, and Alto Mike,
Who never played any thing twice alike;
And Tenor Tom, of conservative mind,
Who always came out a note behind;
And Dick, whose tuba was seldom dumb,
And Bob, who punished the big bass drum.
And when they stopped a minute to rest,
The martial band discoursed its best;
The ponderous drum and the pointed fife
Proceeded to roll and shriek for life;
And Bonaparte Crossed the Rhine, anon,
And The Girl I Left Behind Me came on;
And that was the way
The bands did play
On the loud, high-toned, harmonious day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With some music of bullets, our sires would say,)
Our glorious Independence!

The great procession came up the street,
With a wagon of virgins, sour and sweet;
Each bearing the bloom of recent date,
Each misrepresenting a single State.
There was California, pious and prim,
And Louisiana, humming a hymn;
The Texas lass was the smallest one--
Rhode Island weighed the tenth of a ton;
The Empire State was pure as a pearl,
And Massachusetts a modest girl;
Vermont was red as the blush of a rose--
And the goddess sported a turn-up nose;
And looked, free sylph, where she painfully sat,
The worlds she would give to be out of that.
And in this way
The maidens gay
Flashed up the street on the beautiful day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With some sacrifices, our mothers would say,)
Our glorious Independence!

The great procession came up the street,
With firemen uniformed flashily neat;
There was Tubbs, the foreman, with voice like five,
The happiest, proudest man alive;
With a trumpet half as long as a gun,
Which he used for the glory of "Number 1;"
There was Nubbs, who had climbed a ladder high,
And saved a dog that was left to die;
There was Cubbs, who had dressed in black and blue
The eye of the foreman of Number 2.
And each marched on with steady stride,
And each had a look of fiery pride;
And each glanced slyly round, with a whim
That all of the girls were looking at him;
And that was the way,
With grand display,
They marched through the blaze of the glowing day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With some hot fighting, our fathers would say,)
Our glorious Independence!

The eager orator took the stand,
In the cause of our great and happy land;
He aired his own political views,
He told us all of the latest news:
How the Boston folks one night took tea--
Their grounds for steeping it in the sea;
What a heap of Britons our fathers did kill,
At the little skirmish of Bunker Hill;
He put us all in anxious doubt
As to how that matter was coming out;
And when at last he had fought us through
To the bloodless year of '82,
'Twas the fervent hope of every one
That he, as well as the war, was done.
But he continued to painfully soar
For something less than a century more;
Until at last he had fairly begun
The wars of eighteen-sixty-one;
And never rested till 'neath the tree
That shadowed the glory of Robert Lee.
And then he inquired, with martial frown,
"Americans, must we go down?"
And as an answer from Heaven were sent,
The stand gave way, and down he went.
A singer or two beneath him did drop--
A big fat alderman fell atop;
And that was the way
Our orator lay,
Till we fished him out, on the eloquent day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With a clash of arms, Pat. Henry would say,)
Our wordy Independence!

The marshal his hungry compatriots led,
Where Freedom's viands were thickly spread,
With all that man or woman could eat,
From crisp to sticky--from sour to sweet.
There were chickens that scarce had learned to crow,
And veteran roosters of long ago;
There was one old turkey, huge and fierce,
That was hatched in the days of President Pierce;
Of which, at last, with an ominous groan,
The parson essayed to swallow a bone;
And it took three sinners, plucky and stout,
To grapple the evil and bring it out.
And still the dinner went merrily on,
And James and Lucy and Hannah and John
Kept winking their eyes and smacking their lips,
And passing the eatables into eclipse.
And that was the way
The grand array
Of victuals vanished on that day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With some starvation, the records say,)
Our well-fed Independence!

The people went home through the sultry night,
In a murky mood and a pitiful plight;
Not more had the rockets' sticks gone down,
Than the spirits of them who had "been to town;"
Not more did the fire-balloon collapse,
Than the pride of them who had known mishaps.
There were feathers ruffled, and tempers roiled,
And several brand-new dresses spoiled;
There were hearts that ached from envy's thorns,
And feet that twinged with trampled corns;
There were joys proved empty, through and through,
And several purses empty, too;
And some reeled homeward, muddled and late,
Who hadn't taken their glory straight;
And some were fated to lodge, that night,
In the city lock-up, snug and tight;
And that was the way
The deuce was to pay,
As it always is, at the close of the day,
That gave us--
_Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!_
(With some restrictions, the fault-finders say,)
That which, please God, we will keep for aye--
Our National Independence!

Last updated November 04, 2022