Alfred Noyes


The first four lines of this poem were written for inscription on the
first joint memorial to the American and British soldiers who fell in
the Revolutionary War. This memorial was recently dedicated at

Here Freedom stood, by slaughtered friend and foe,
  And ere the wrath paled or that sunset died,
Looked through the ages: then, with eyes aglow,
  Laid them, to wait that future, side by side.

Now lamp-lit gardens in the blue dusk shine
  Through dog-wood red and white,
And round the gray quadrangles, line by line,
  The windows fill with light,
Where Princeton calls to Magdalen, tower to tower,
  Twin lanthorns of the law,
And those cream-white magnolia boughs embower
  The halls of old Nassau.

The dark bronze tigers crouch on either side
  Where red-coats used to pass,
And round the bird-loved house where Mercer died
  And violets dusk the grass,
By Stony Brook that ran so red of old,
  But sings of friendship now,
To feed the old enemy's harvest fifty-fold
  The green earth takes the plough.

Through this May night if one great ghost should stray
  With deep remembering eyes,
Where that old meadow of battle smiles away
  Its blood-stained memories,
If Washington should walk, where friend and foe
  Sleep and forget the past,
Be sure his unquenched heart would leap to know
  Their hosts are joined at last.

Be sure he walks, in shadowy buff and blue,
  Where those dim lilacs wave,
He bends his head to bless, as dreams come true,
  The promise of that grave,
Then with a vaster hope than thought can scan,
  Touching his ancient sword,
Prays for that mightier realm of God in man,
  "Hasten Thy Kingdom, Lord."

"Land of new hope, land of the singing stars,
  Type of the world to be,
The vision of a world set free from wars
  Takes life, takes form, from thee,
Where all the jarring nations of this earth,
  Beneath the all-blessing sun,
Bring the new music of mankind to birth,
  And make the whole world one."

And those old comrades rise around him there,
  Old foemen, side by side,
With eyes like stars upon the brave night-air,
  And young as when they died,
To hear your bells, O beautiful Princeton towers,
  Ring for the world's release.
They see you, piercing like gray swords through flowers,
  And smile from hearts at peace

The Colonnade overlooks the Princeton battlefield where the American general Hugh Mercer was killed.Here also is the patio and memorial to American and British dead. The plaque on the portico reads:

This is hallowed ground. Across these fields in the early light of the third of January 1777, Washington's Continentals defeated British Regulars for the first time in the long struggle for American independence. In the memorial grove beyond you, those who fell in the battle of Princeton, both American and British, are buried. The historic portico in which you stand was re-erectd here to make the entrance to the tomb of these unknown soldiers of the Revolution.

In 1777, American forces under George Washington defeated the British in the Battle of Princeton. Late in the battle, on January 3, 1777, British troops decided to make a final stand in Nassau Hall, but bombardment by American cannon forced them to surrender.

Alfred Noyes taught English Literature at Princeton University from 1914 to 1923.