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1 FIRST, O songs, for a prelude, Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum, pride and joy  
 in my city,
How she led the rest to arms—how she gave the cue, How at once with lithe limbs, unwaiting a moment, she  
(O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless! O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O  
 truer than steel!)
How you sprang! how you threw off the costumes of  
 peace with indifferent hand;
How your soft opera-music changed, and the drum and  
 fife were heard in their stead;
How you led to the war, (that shall serve for our pre- 
 lude, songs of soldiers,)
How Manhattan drum-taps led.
2Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading; Forty years as a pageant—till unawares, the Lady of  
 this teeming and turbulent city,
Sleepless, amid her ships, her houses, her incalculable  
With her million children around her—suddenly, At dead of night, at news from the south, Incens'd, struck with clench'd hand the pavement.
3A shock electric—the night sustain'd it; Till with ominous hum, our hive at day-break, pour'd  
 out its myriads.
  [ begin page 6a ]ppp.00473.344.jpg 4From the houses then, and the workshops, and  
 through all the doorways,
Leapt they tumultuous—and lo! Manhattan arming.
5To the drum-taps prompt, The young men falling in and arming; The mechanics arming, (the trowel, the jack-plane, the  
 blacksmith's hammer, tost aside with precipi- 
The lawyer leaving his office, and arming—the judge  
 leaving the court;
The driver deserting his wagon in the street, jumping  
 down, throwing the reins abruptly down on the  
 horses' backs;
The salesman leaving the store—the boss, book-keeper,  
 porter, all leaving;
Squads gathering everywhere by common consent, and  
The new recruits, even boys—the old men show them  
 how to wear their accoutrements—they buckle  
 the straps carefully;
Outdoors arming—indoors arming—the flash of the  
The white tents cluster in camps—the arm'd sentries  
 around—the sunrise cannon, and again at sunset;
Arm'd regiments arrive every day, pass through the  
 city, and embark from the wharves;
(How good they look, as they tramp down to the river,  
 sweaty, with their guns on their shoulders!
How I love them! how I could hug them, with their  
 brown faces, and their clothes and knapsacks cov- 
 er with dust!)
The blood of the city up—arm'd! arm'd! the cry  
The flags flung out from the steeples of churches, and  
 from all the public buildings and stores;
The tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the  
 son kisses his mother;
(Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she  
 speak to detain him;)
  [ begin page 7a ]ppp.00473.345.jpg The tumultuous escort—the ranks of policemen preceed- 
 ing, clearing the way;
The unpent enthusiasm—the wild cheers of the crowd  
 for their favorites;
The artillery—the silent cannons, bright as gold, drawn  
 along, rumble lightly over the stones;
(Silent cannons—soon to cease your silence! Soon, unlimber'd, to begin the red business;) All the mutter of preparation—all the determin'd  
The hospital service—the lint, bandages, and medi- 
The women volunteering for nurses—the work begun  
 for, in earnest—no mere parade now;
War! an arm'd race is advancing!—the welcome for  
 battle—no turning away;
War! be it weeks, months, or years—an arm'd race is  
 advancing to welcome it.
6Mannahatta a-march!—and it's O to sing it well! It's O for a manly life in the camp! 7And the sturdy artillery! The guns, bright as gold—the work for giants—to  
 serve well the guns:
Unlimber them! no more, as the past forty years, for  
 salutes for courtesies merely;
Put in something else now besides powder and wadding.
8And you, Lady of Ships! you Mannahatta! Old matron of the city! this proud, friendly, turbulent  
Often in peace and wealth you were pensive, or covertly  
 frown'd amid all your children;
But now you smile with joy, exulting old Mannahatta!
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