The American Soldier

By Philip Freneau

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Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

Known as the poet of the American Revolution, Philip Freneau was influenced by both the political situation of his time and the full, active life he led. He attended Princeton University, where James Madison was his roommate, and planned to become a minister. However, at Princeton he became engaged in political debates with fellow students and pursued his interest in writing. Encouraged by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, Freneau established a newspaper, the National Gazette, which promoted Jefferson’s principles. By the early 1800s, Freneau had retired to his farm to write essays and poetry.

The American Soldier

A picture from the Life

To serve with love,

And shed your blood,

Approved may be above,

But here below

(Example shew,)

'Tis dangerous to be good.


-- Lord Oxford


Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,

Too poor to shine in court, too proud to beg,

He, who once warred on Saratoga's plains,

Sits musing o'er his scars, and wooden leg.


Remembering still the toils of former days,

To other hands he sees his earnings paid;--

They share the due reward-he feeds on praise.

Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune's shade.


Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,

'Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,

Removed alike from courtly cringing 'squires,

The great-man's Levee, and the proud man's grin.


Sold are those arms which once on Britons blazed,

When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;

That power repelled and Freedom's fabrick raised,

She leaves her soldier-famine and a name!

Literary Analysis

The American Soldier by Philip Freneau explains the adventure of American Soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The poem starts with the Soldier starting off by joining the military to make money because he is poor. Then, the scene fast forwards to the Soldier's memories of the war and the nostalgia after the war. In this line, "That power repelled and Freedom's fabrick raised," It signifies the ending of the Revolutionary War and beginning of a new era in America.
Tea, Taxes, and The American Revolution: Crash Course World History #28
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