James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 22

On the Death of Decatur

By William Crafts (1787–1826)

  • Stephen Decatur, the second of the name, was, like his father, an American naval officer. He served with great distinction in the war of 1812, and commanded in 1815 the expedition against the Dey of Algiers, whereby that potentate was compelled to renounce all claims to tribute from the United States. He was killed in a duel on March 22, 1820.

  • SWEET scented flowers on beauty’s grave

    We strew—but, for the honored brave,

    The fallen conqueror of the wave—

    Let ocean’s flags adorn the bier,

    And be the Pall of Glory there!


    Britannia!—noble-hearted foe—

    Hast thou no funeral flowers of woe

    To grace his sepulchre—who ne’er again

    Shall meet thy warriors on the purple main.

    His pride to conquer—and his joy to save—

    In triumph generous, as in battle brave—

    Heroic—ardent—when a captive—great!

    Feeling, as valiant—thou deplorest his fate.

    And these thy sons who met him in the fray,

    Shall weep with manly tears the hero passed away.


    And thou, my country! young, but ripe in grief!

    Who shall console thee for the fallen chief!

    Thou envied land, whom frequent foes assail,

    Too often called to bleed or to prevail;

    Doomed to deplore the gallant sons that save,

    And follow from the triumph—to the grave.


    Thou starry streamer! symbol of the brave,

    Shining by day and night, on land and wave;

    Sometimes obscured in battle, ne’er in shame,

    The guide—the boast—the arbitress of fame!

    Still wave in grateful admiration near,

    And beam for ever on Decatur’s bier;

    And ye, blest stars of Heaven! responsive shed

    Your pensive lustre on his lowly bed.