The Rough Rider and Other Poems

by Bliss Carman



(FEBRUARY 12TH 1909)


WHAT winter holiday is this?
In Time’s great calendar,
Marked in the rubric of the saints,
And with a soldier’s star,
Here stands the name of one who lived
To serve the common weal,
With humor tender as a prayer
And honor firm as steel.

No hundred hundred years can dim
The radiance of his mirth,

That set unselfish laughter free
From all the sons of earth.
Unswerved through stress and scant success,
Out of his dreamful youth
He kept an unperverted faith
In the almighty truth.

Born in the fulness of the days,
Up from the teeming soil,
By the world-mother reared and schooled
In reverence and toil,

He stands the test of all life’s best
Through play, defeat, or strain;
Never a moment was he found
Unlovable nor vain.

Fondly we set apart this day,

And mark this plot of earth
To be forever hallowed ground
In honor of his birth,
Where men may come as to a shrine
And temple of the good,
To be made sweet and strong of heart
In Lincoln’s brotherhood.

Here walked God’s earth in modesty
The shadow that was man,
A shade of the divine that moved

Through His mysterious plan.
So must we fill the larger mould
Of wisdom, love, and power,
Fearless, compassionate, contained,
And masters of the hour,

As men found faithful to a task
Eternal, pressing, plain,
Accounting manhood more than wealth,
And gladness more than gain;
Distilling happiness from life,
As vigor from the air,
Not wresting it with ruthless hands,
Spoiling our brother’s share.

Here shall our children keep alive
The passion for the right,—

The cause of justice in the world,
That was our father’s fight.
For this the fair-haired stripling rode,
The dauntless veteran died,
For this we keep the ancient code
In stubbornness and pride.

O South, bring all your chivalry;
And West, give all your heart;
And East, your old untarnished dreams
Of progress and of art!

Bid waste and war to be no more,
Bid wanton riot cease;
At your command give Lincoln’s land
To Paradise,—to peace.