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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Theodore Tilton (1835–1907)

The Great Bell Roland

Suggested by the President’s First Call for Volunteers

TOLL, Roland, toll!

In old St. Bavon’s tower,

At midnight hour,

The great Bell Roland spoke!

All souls that slept in Ghent awoke!

What meant the thunder-stroke?

Why trembled wife and maid?

Why caught each man his blade?

Why echoed every street

With tramp of thronging feet,

All flying to the city’s wall?

It was the warning call

That Freedom stood in peril of a foe!

And even timid hearts grew bold

Whenever Roland tolled,

And every hand a sword could hold!

So acted men

Like patriots then—

Three hundred years ago!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Bell never yet was hung,

Between whose lips there swung

So grand a tongue!

If men be patriots still,

At thy first sound

True hearts will bound,

Great souls will thrill!

Then toll and strike the test

Through each man’s breast,

Till loyal hearts shall stand confest,—

And may God’s wrath smite all the rest!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Not now in old St. Bavon’s tower—

Not now at midnight hour—

Not now from River Scheldt to Zuyder Zee,—

But here, this side the sea!

Toll here, in broad, bright day!

For not by night awaits

A noble foe without the gates,

But perjured friends within betray,

And do the deed at noon!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Thy sound is not too soon!

To arms! Ring out the Leader’s call!

Re-echo it from East to West

Till every hero’s breast

Shall swell beneath a soldier’s crest!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Till cottager from cottage wall

Snatch pouch and powder-horn and gun!

The sire bequeathed them to the son

When only half their work was done!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Till swords from scabbards leap!

Toll, Roland, toll!

What tears can widows weep

Less bitter than when brave men fall!

Toll, Roland, toll!

In shadowed hut and hall

Shall lie the soldier’s pall,

And hearts shall break while graves are filled!

Amen! So God hath willed!

And may his grace anoint us all!

Toll, Roland, toll!

The Dragon on thy tower

Stands sentry to this hour,

And Freedom so stands safe in Ghent!

And merrier bells now ring,

And in the land’s serene content

Men shout “God save the King!”

Until the skies are rent!

So let it be!

A kingly king is he

Who keeps his people free!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Ring out across the sea!

No longer They but We

Have now such need of thee!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Nor ever may thy throat

Keep dumb its warning note

Till Freedom’s perils be outbraved!

Toll, Roland, toll!

Till Freedom’s flag, wherever waved,

Shall shadow not a man enslaved!

Toll, Roland, toll!

From Northern lake to Southern strand,

Toll, Roland, toll!

Till friend and foe, at thy command,

Once more shall clasp each other’s hand,

And shout, one-voiced, “God save the land!”

And love the land that God hath saved!

Toll, Roland, toll!