LYRICS

—ON—

FREEDOM, LOVE AND DEATH


By

GEORGE FREDERICK CAMERON



 

Lyrics on Freedom.


There have been kings! There have been kings!—
     Proclaim it while it is to-day:
     For lo! the ages pass away,—
And men will doubt there were such things
     Ere many centuries decay. [Page 3]




Cuba.


Long time she labored sore, and lay
     The sport of Spain’s imperial whim,
While cowards, in a coward’s pay,
     Tore shrieking Freedom limb from limb.

But lo! A better morrow broke

5

     To light her every vale and hill,—
For, though she wears the Spanish yoke,
     And speaks her Master’s language still;

And though she takes her laws as yet
     From o’er the sea—what Spain hath lost

10

Spain will not, in an hour, forget,
     Nor what the losing lesson cost.

O Cuba! May the Eternal ring
     Thee round about, and make thee free,—
A flawless gem, a perfect thing,

15

     The sunniest Island of the sea.

January 1st, 1884 [Page 5]




Proem.


No Spanish blood I boast, but to
     That holy hope of man I cling
     Which makes him free of lord and king;
Who asks of me a reason due
     I give it to him while I sing:

5


For I am of that forlorn hope
     That is the only hope of man,—
From corner stone to curve and cope
     I am a cosmopolitan! [Page 6]

1868—1873.


     In 1869 the Island was one scene of carnage. Frightful atrocities were committed by the Spanish troops in Havana and other cities. Up to August 1872, 13,000 Cubans had been killed in battle, and 43,500 prisoners put to death. Over 150,000 soldiers had been sent out from Spain.—C.J.C.




SHE IS NOT MINE.


She is not mine—this land of tears,
     But her high cause is mine, and was,
     And shall be, till my thought shall pause
Upon the measure of its years
     To ponder over larger laws.

5


And since her cause is mine, and man’s—
     Else it were never mine—I hold
     That I may speak in accents bold
For Liberty and all her plans,
     And her high phases manifold.

10


I would not speak for blood, nor will
     I dream too long of that long lease
     Of days when war and strife shall cease,—
When that accursed cry of “kill”!
     Shall change into the calm of peace: [Page 7]

15


But yet—I speak my thought—but yet,
     Should it be so that some must die
     A sacrifice for liberty,
Let tyrant blood alone be let,—
     Let despots’ veins alone be dry!

20


Without fair Liberty to make
     The key-stone of the world’s whole plan,
The arch we heap o’erhead will break,
And some fair morrow man will wake
     To find beneath the ruins—man! [Page 8]

25





MY POLITICAL FAITH.


I am not of those fierce, wild wills,
     Albeit from loins of warlike line,
     To wreck laws human and divine
Alike, that on a million ills
     I might erect one sacred shrine

5


To Freedom: nor again am I
     Of these who could be sold and bought
     To fall before a Juggernaut:
I hold all “royal right” a lie—
     Save that a royal soul hath wrought!

10


It is in the extreme begins
     And ends all danger: if the Few
     Would feel, or if the Many knew
This fact, the mass of fewer sins
     Would shrive them in their passing through:

15


O’er all God’s footstool not a slave
     Should under his great glory stand,
     For men would rise, swift sword in hand,
And give each tyrant to his grave
     And freedom to each lovely land. [Page 9]

20

 




JUSTICE?
*


Again defeated, gallant land!
     Again thy hopes are in the dust:
     Again thy throat receives the thrust
From tyrant steel in tyrant hand,
     And coward lips that call it —“just.”

5


This Justice! Perish justice—all
     And every high and noble deed,
     And every righteous cause and creed,
If it be just for men to fall
     To serve or sate a despot’s greed!

10

This Justice! By the God who rules
     Above the spheres of thought and things,
     There is a day that comes and brings
Pure justice to the fools and tools
     Who crouch to, write or fight for kings! [Page 10]
15

* Suggested by a paragraph from the pen of some scribbler who is, and deserves to be—nameless.—G.F.C. [back]
 
 

 




FORWARD!


Soldiers, forward for your honor!
     Forward every gallant band,—
     Forward for your mother-land:
Freedom yet shall smile upon her:
     Forward, Cubans, heart and hand!

5


Do not tyrants, long prevailing,
     Sweep your isle with desolation?
     Drink the life-blood of your nation?
Smile to hear your widows’ wailing?
     Use the sword!—’tis your salvation.

10


Use the sword!—with it contending
     Ye will conquer soon or late:
     Ye will make your country’s fate:
Ye will see her star ascending
     Calm and beautiful and great! [Page 11]

15

 




BUT WORDS?


What can I give? but words—no more?
     Not now—to-day: yet words being wed
     With Truth that quickens even the dead
Have shaken thrones and Things before,—
     Have moulded men who moulded lead,

5


And shot it through a thousand shields
     Of despots to their thousand hearts,
     Despite their cells and felon-carts,
Their guillotines, and battle fields,—
     Yea, spite of war and all her arts!

10

And words may do what words have done,
     Ay, words as weak as mine are weak:
     Though, should but now the elder speak,
I need not, for to-morrow’s sun
     Might seek a slave,—and vainly seek! [Page 12]
15

 




DEFEATED OFT.


Defeated oft,—defeated still!
     All holy is the patriot’s cause:
     All holy is the sword he draws:
All holy Nature’s Sinai-hill
     From which alone he takes his laws.

5


Weep not for those who died to-day—
     The brave who take their latest rest!
     They slumber on their mother’s breast:
Their glory, mortal yesterday,
     To-day immortal stands confest.

10


Not even their blood is shed in vain;—
     In fertile soil still falls such seed;
     And from each drop that heroes bleed
A thousand heroes spring again,—
     Each drop a Cadmus-tooth, indeed. [Page 13]

15

 


 

COLUMBIA vs. FREEDOM.*


Go, vaunt Columbia’s glory, ye
     Who cower beneath the glance of Spain!
     Admit that Freedom’s war is vain:
Admit ’tis vulgar to be free,
     And better far to hug a chain!

5


Unworthy sons of worthy sires
     Go to your senate-halls, and tell
     The world that tyranny is well,
Albeit it quench fair Freedom’s fires
     And make the earth a very hell! [Page 14]

10


Then gaze where Caribbean waves
     Loll calm on desecrated sands;
     Where Freedom cheers her weary bands:
Where heroes dig heroic graves
     With their own hero-hands.

15


Then turn again, and, if you dare,
     Pronounce that Spain is in the right:
     Pronounce his fight a holy fight:
Pronounce the Cuban cause a snare:
     Tell earth there is no right but might! [Page 15]

20

* To their dishonor be it said, many of the American newspapers wrote as American statesmen (sic!) spoke against the Cubans in their magnificent struggle for Liberty. Talis liberorum virtus! [back]
 
 

 


 

NAY, STRIKE AGAIN.


O verdured Islands of the main—
     Fair emerald glories of the sea!
Strike hard! strike fast! Nay, strike again!
     And strike—till ye are free!

Dispute each pebble and each sod,

5

     Each lofty mountain, mossy glen,
Fit for the footsteps of a god,—
     And fit for free and noble men!

Shrink not from toil! the boon you crave
     Is only worthy of the brave:—

10

It may be worth alike a grave!

Swear to be free, or die!
     ’Tis all ye need:
Cowards live on and sigh,—
     But brave men bleed! [Page 16]

15

 


 

THE CUBAN DEAD.


Oh, weep not for them, for all time shall deplore them!
     To the keeping of ages each sorrow resign:
The bard shall bewail them, a world shall weep o’er them,—
     Posterity make of their tombstone a shrine.

Plant not o’er their resting place ivy or willow!—

5

     Their deeds are immortal, tho’ names be unknown;
The soil they have freed is their winding sheet, pillow,—
     Their sepulchre, monument, glory and throne! [Page 17]

 


 

’TIS DONE!


’Tis done! The sword that flashed in air
     At Freedom’s bidding, shattered lies:
     The wing that brushed so late the skies
Is palsied all, and in despair
     The eagle falls and darkly dies.

5


’Tis done! The stubborn head is bent,
     And paralyzed the rebel heart:
     And might hath been the magic art
That hath accomplished the event
     And winged the subtly poisoned dart.

10


’Tis done! The fratricidal strife
     Hath given to Cuba naught of gain,—
     She bends submissive knee to Spain:
This battle to the very knife
     Is but a battle fought in vain. [Page 18]

15


’Tis done! The Spaniard stands at length,
     The victor’s laurel on his brow:
     The heart which scorned so long to bow
Is bowed at length by tyrant strength,
     Is bowed,—and all is over now.

20


’Tis done! The spirit that inspired
     My earlier visions all is fled:
     The dreams on which my fancy fed
Dead as the beacon Freedom fired,
     Aye, dead—and with your hero-dead! [Page 19]

25

 


 

TAKE HEART!


Take heart! They never vainly wait
     Who wait to see redress of wrong:
     An age, though seemingly so long,
Is nought in time; and soon or late
     Your land shall take her place among

5


The nations of the earth: for Right
     And Honor yet shall set her free:
     Her air, though tainted now, shall be
As pure as yonder holy light
     That smiles upon your southern sea!

10


Take heart! A happier day awaits
     Your weary, battling, bleeding isle,—
     A happier day, when Peace shall smile
On all that is within your gates,
     And war shall rest himself a while.

15


For noble deeds must bear this fruit:
     And holy Freedom yet shall stand
     Within each despot-ridden land,
The chain of slavery ’neath her foot—
     The star of Promise in her hand! [Page 20]

20

 


 

AVE ATQUE VALE!


When war is over, and thy glorious brow
     Gleams with the star of Peace and Victory;
When all thy sons at Freedom’s shrine shall bow;
     When all thy daughters, fairest as they be,
     Shall learn to lisp the name of Liberty

5

And offer incense at her altar; then,
     Then in thy pride of place remember me—
The nameless bard who sung thy praises when
None other dared to sing among the sons of men! [Page 21]

 


 


Russia.


There
Russia lightless land of pain,
     Rude region of forbidden thought,
Where Freedom, walking, clanks a chain,
     Or pines in prison till she rot:—

Where every moment breaks a heart,

5

     Where hope can hardly draw a breath,
Where rumbles still the hangman’s cart,
     And all the air is thick with death:—

Yea, Russia—sick and sad of soul,
     And, like the camel, forced to kneel,

10

Feels on her back the burden roll,
     And lifts again the old appeal;

And vainly lifts it: while the throng
     Of maid, and woman, man and child,
Goes outward—singing sadder song

15

     Than Babel’s—to Siberia’s wild. [Page 22]

But even for thee there is a hope,—
     That better Ruler shall be thine,
Whose sway shall show that cell, and rope,
     Are not the seals of “Right Divine.”

20


This
failing thee—a Power shall wake
     As stern as steel, as strong as stone;
A Power that never fails to shake
     A too-dark Despot from his throne:—

Rebellion’s self, with vengeful hand,

25

     Disdaining civic wreath and robe,
Shall take the sword, and blazing brand,
     And sweep the Gorgon from the globe. [Page 23]

 

 

ALEXIS ROMANOFF.*


There are thunders of cheers on the street,
     They are smiting and striking the air:
Is it right? Is it well? Is it meet?
     What deed hath he done who is there,
That the people should lie at his feet?

5


What deed hath he done that we know?
     What of good unto others or us?
And what is the debt that ye owe
     Him, to fawn on and flatter him thus?—
That ye cringe to, and bow to him so?

10


Hath he shown a contempt of the wrong?
     Hath he shown a desire of the right?
Hath he broken the strength of the strong,
     Or supported the weak with his might,
That to meet him and greet him ye throng?

15


Ye freemen, whose ancestors crost
     Over anarchy’s perilous sea!
How much hath your liberties cost
     That ye sell them so cheaply? that ye
Would so lightly behold them all lost? [Page 24]

20


Why stoop ye, if more than the name
      Of freemen remains to you now?—
Why stoop ye so swiftly to shame?
     Why darken the spark on your brow
  That should leap into luminous flame?

25


Being freeest of those who are free,
     Being bravest of those who are brave,
Why bend you so ready a knee?
     Is Freedom the chattel and slave
Or the autocrat over the sea?

30


Oh, it is but a courtesy shown
     To a king, or the son of a king!
How courteous at length ye have grown!
     But courtesy—what!—must it bring
Ye to fall at the foot of a throne?

35


Ye had fathers both courteous and brave
     Who could die, but consent not to shame:
Ye had fathers—they sleep in the grave,
     The children of freedom and fame:—
Know ye not what they thought of a slave?— [Page 25]

40


Of a slave who had chosen to lie
     In the dust when he well might be free?—
Of a slave who, when princes went by,
     Would fall with a pliable knee?
Seek their graves—and their dust will reply!

45


Is it dead, then—this spirit that spoke
     In the battle, the storm, and the strife?
Is it dead? Is its scepter now broke?
     Is it dead—that it leaps not to life
On the soil where to life it first woke?

50


Is it dead? Do the lip and the brow
     Only worship a name at a shrine
Polluted and desecrate now—
     No longer revered as divine—
Where the nobles of ages did bow?

55


Oh, be men! I beseech you, be men!
     Upon you are the eyes of the earth:
Yonder History holdeth her pen
     To rate you at what you are worth,—
Disgrace not fair Freedom again! [Page 26]

60

* On the reception of the Grand Duke in Boston. [back]
 

 


 

THE “DIVINE RIGHT.”


When nations from their slavery wake,
     And every band that bound them break,
Then comes the stern decree of kings—
     Subdue them, or destroy!
High through the quivering air it rings,

5

While Death and Famine wave their wings,
     And glut their savage joy.

The Czar, with his Damascene brand,
     Pricks the bear of the north till uncurled:
O’er the cities and towns of a perishing land

10

     His ominous flag is unfurled;
While the glove that late sat on the Autocrat’s hand
     Is flung in the face of the world! [Page 27]

Blow, winds of heaven! in all the broad land:
     Blow, dins of God! in all the broad sea:

15

Blow, till the sceptre is wrung from the hand
     Of the tyrant, and earth is free,
     The proud, firm song of equality!
Breathe it into each mortal ear,—
     Force it into each human soul,—

20

That man was born for a holier sphere
     Than a despot’s base control!

Be thou an emperor, sultan, or czar,
     Priest or patriarch, queen or king,
Thou hast no right to the judgment car—

25

     Man is the noblest created thing!—
From the same origin—all, the same pair:
Blow on the wandering winds afar—
     Scatter it here, and scatter it there:—
Man is man’s peer, only man is his peer,

30

     And each has a right each is bound to revere,—

The right to be free—to be true:
     The right to be true—to be free:
So whatever, my lord, is a right for you,
     The same is a right for me! [Page 28]

35


What! not a right to break
     What you have a right to bind?
What! not a right to take
     Redress for the wrongs of mankind?
What! not a right to shake

40

     With the catapult of the mind
The ramparts which you have built
     To shelter the throne you hold?—
To pass through the breach to your citadel—Guilt,
     And to trample your image of gold?

45

Oh, you would sheathe your sword to the hilt
     In the heart that would be so bold!

So, breezes! whisper the Czar
     Who tramples a beggarly land,
That perhaps, ’neath the sheen of the star

50

     That lights his marauding band
On their pathway of ruin and war,
     The David even now may stand
Waiting and watching—nor distant far—
     With the sling in his boyish hand,

55

Till a David’s God shall arise in wrath
     And smite to the dust this giant of Gath. [Page 29]

 


 

COLUMBIA—RUSSIA!*


Columbia—Russia! God above!
     Who dares to link the fame
Acquired by Freedom, Union, Love,
     With Alexander’s name?
     Who dares to say Columbia’s hand

5

Would aid the Russian smite the land
     From which our fathers came?—
If such should be, all time would brand
With contumely her banner, and
     Her virgin brow with shame!

10


Alliance with the northern Tsar?—
     To bid the blood of Nations flow,
To set the earth aflame with war,—
To spread it near, to fling it far,—
     To make the world a waste of woe

15

To drag or fall before his car?
     No!—One for many answers—No! [Page 30]

For Freedom’s cause, for Freedom’s cause
     The freeman’s banner only flies:
For that alone his sword he draws,

20

     For that alone he dies.
Go, autocrat! The hireling slave
     May dig himself a hireling’s grave:—
’Twould ill become the free and brave! [Page 31]


* On hearing of a proposed alliance between Russia and the United States. [back]
 
 

 


 

WHAT MEANS THIS PAGEANTRY?*


What means this pageantry and glare?—
     The stately tread of horses feet?
The numerous gazers on the street,—
     This solemn roll of muffled drums,—
These banners flaunting in the air,—

5

These weeds the myriad mourners wear,—
     This voice of melancholy prayer?
Pronounce!—Is it some hero comes?

Some soldier who, in battle-plain,
     As he his country’s banner bore,

10

Where fiercest flew the leaden rain
     Fell—fell to rise again no more:
Died, pride still vanquishing his pain,
     Died for his land,—nor died in vain? [Page 32]

No? Then some sage to whom ’twas given

15

     The rugged steeps of Fame to climb;
And high among the stars of heaven
     To write, with daring hand sublime,
     His deeds for all recurring time:—
A man of pure and humble birth

20

     Born heir to deeds of high emprize,
Who to the chariot wheels of earth
     Chained some new spirit of the skies,—
Like that triumphant Franklin gave
To be man’s mighty, humble slave?

25


Some meteoric son of song
     Who climbed Parnassus’ lofty height,
And from the summit poured along
     A strain of majesty and might?
Who from the dewy wings of Night
     Shook out the latent stars of fire

30

And, wrapped within this cloud of light,
     Swept with trained hand the sounding lyre
Till nations all did prostrate fall
     And hail him prophet, bard, and sire? [Page 33]

No, none of these.—The day is past

35

     When son of song or sage could claim
More than all men may have at last,—
     A grave—and a forgotten name!
For czars and emperors and kings,—
     For those who most their fellows wrong,—

40

The temple’s sacred organ rings,
The poet from his closet brings
     The tribute of a servile song! [Page 34]


* On memorial services to Czar Alexander in Boston. [back]

 

 


 

OUR POETS.


These men to loose or burst the galling chains
     Of those who mourn in darkness over sea!
These men—who feel a fever in their veins
     At every moon change—these to set men free!

These—these!—who sing in rapture of the Czar

5

     And howl their hallelujahs in his ears
To bruise the head of that grim monster—war,
     To close the eye of bitterness and tears!

These men of servile souls and servile songs
     To name the day when despotism shall cease!

10

These men, forsooth, to right the people’s wrongs
     And give the world her harvest-time of Peace!

What can he know of joys or miseries—
     Yon vain, luxurious fool, who lolls at ease
And sips the foam alone upon the cup?

15


Whoe’er would know or one or all of these
     Must take the ponderous chalice, hold it up—
And drink life’s vintage to its very lees! [Page 35]

 


 

THE CZAR.


They say I hate the Czar. I hate
     All wrong in any high or low;
In men of small or large estate,
     In any friend or any foe:

And something of the Czar I hate,

5

     And, holding him as only clay,
Unlike a craven coward, straight
     Back to his royal self I say:—

Thy reign was bitter, barren, blind, and bad:
     Thy life was black, and blackened other ones

10

That else had known no sorrow, or had had
     Some of God’s light within them and His Son’s,—
Within them and about: but o’er thy day
The curtain closes, and they see thee—clay!

This to his teeth. And then to those

15

     Paid by him—nothing: they are naught.
Truth goes wherever manhood goes,
     And fears not either shell or shot:
And God hath but the liar’s lot
     Beyond the chance of day or date,—

20

And if the Czar can, or cannot,
     Why, He who made them all can wait! [Page 36]

 


 

TO THE CZAR.


If ever fell the wrath of God
     Upon a bitter fool, and blind,
Who stained with blood a ready rod
     And sought and slew his fellow-kind,
     And banished mercy from his mind,

5

And with a level face severe,—
     In which no trace did any find
Of any hope for any year,—

Walked on and over all that came
     Betwixt him and his tyrant will,

10

And knew not any shade of shame,
     And only heard and heeded still
     That fierce old Roman cry of “kill!”—
Then, Autocrat, and all unjust!
     ’Twill light on thee and burn, until

15

That heart of thine shall beat to dust. [Page 37]

Yea, Czar of every Russia crowned!
     The meanest hind that follows plough,
Or whistles to his yellow hound,
     Is more a monarch than art thou!

20

     He wears a hope upon his brow,
And he dare lift his eyes above:—
     But, sightless despot, answer now—
Where moves the thing that thou dost love?

Or, where is that of man or beast

25

     That gives thee kindly thought or care?
From North to South, from West to East,
     Say, rises for thee anywhere
     From honest heart an honest prayer?
No! Though your messenger should run

30

     And scan the spaces of the air
He would not light on any one. [Page 38]

O fool! and greater—filling throne!—
     Why is a price within thine hand
For wisdom? still thy people groan,

35

     And still they groan at thy command.
     Can’st thou not learn nor understand
That Freedom will not suffer thrall?
     That he who fain would rule a land
Must rule by love—or not at all?

40


No? Then from out the pregnant womb
     Of time-to-be shall come a day
 As dire to thee as that of Doom,
     And it shall draw a sword and slay:
     And it shall speak to thee and say,—

45

As darkly onward thou dost grope,—
     See written o’er thine every way—
“Who enters here, abandon hope!” [Page 39]

 


 

THE CZAR.


What is there in thy greatness that is great,—
     Thou, loveless as that other, loved by none?
Or, where moves man that envies thee thy fate,—
     All-evil worker, and all evil one?

Still to be hated with a whole heart’s hate,

5

     Known and remembered but for ill deeds done,
This is forever, Tyrant! thine estate
     Beneath the crimson circle of the sun!

Watch well, O world! Right is not always wrong:
The ghosts of his own works about him throng.

10


Watch well—nor envy him his hour of calm,
     Ere they arise and put forth strength, and strip
The blood-stained purple from the royal sham,
And curse the white-lipped leper to his lip!

Feb.16, 1884. [Page 40]

 


 


France.


Next she, whose eddying humor went
     Through both the scales of change and chance,
At length, for once at least, content,
     Demands a line—the land of France.

A host of Sovereigns have been hers

5

     Since first commenced our humbler rule,
And some were bad, and some were worse,
     One was a tyrant, one a fool.

And one, or two, I need not name,—
     I know you have them in your mind,—

10

For they have found their proper fame,—
     Were tyrant both and fool combined. [Page 41]

And she has wearied of them each,
     And parted with them, one by one,
And told them in divinest speech

15

     And firmest, that their day was done.

And beckoning Freedom to her side,—
     A calm-pulsed Freedom,—not again
That froward, fiendish fool who dyed
     Of old, with crimson hue, the Seine:—

20


And walking with her up the slope
     Of peaceful, civic life at last,
She sees the perfect higher hope,
     And turns her back upon the Past.

And none would wish thee worse than this:

25

     That still thy glory may advance;
And that no good that is may miss
     Thy shore, O lovely land of France! [Page 42]

 


 

THY SKY IS DIM.


Thy sky is dim but yet I see,
     Methinks, anear thy shore
The star that shines above the free
     Arise to set no more:
And from that star a light doth spring—

5

A light of heaven’s own wakening.

But swear it, Frenchmen, by the days
     Of anguish ye have known,
That never more shall despot raise
     In France the despot’s throne!

10

Your hands are laid to Freedom’s plough,—
Oh, look not back, nor falter now!

The memory of what hath been—
     Be that your warning light
To keep the civil scabbard clean,

15

     The civil sabre bright:
And bear in mind, no mutual good
Can come from fostering mutual feud! [Page 43]

Ye need not fear the invader’s arm,—
     His strength is but a boast:

20

But fear what most can work you harm,
     Ay, fear yourselves the most!
The flesh wound may, ’tis true, annoy:
The inward canker will destroy.

Let faction, then, this moment cease,

25

     Or but exist to be
Exerted in the cause of peace
     And heaven-born liberty,
Of all that makes a nation’s name
Beam brighter on the scroll of Fame!

30


So, Frenchmen, shall the glories old
     That to your land belong,
With glories to be hers, be told
     In golden speech and song:
So shall the children on her breast

35

And all her lovers call her blest. [Page 44]

 


 

THE FUTURE?


Oh, what shall the future unravel,
     The future for which thou hast bled,
For which thou hast suffered in travail,—
     Of lustre or cloud for thy head?
Wilt thou love Peace as in the beginning?

5

As thou did’st, ere the day of thy sinning?
     As thou did’st, ere the perilous strife,
That a tyrant thought well worth his winning,
     Left thee lonely with only thy life?

Oh, shall it be sadness or laughter—

10

     Oh, shall it be gladness or tears
Shall come to thee, Beautiful, after
     The lapse of the fluctuant years?—
After the flight of the flying—
After the death of the dying—

15

     The swift-flying, swift-dying days?
Say, shall it be singing or sighing?
     Say, shall it be censure, or praise [Page 45]

Of the day of thy deadliest error—
     The day of the blood and the brand;

20

Of the day of thy darkness and terror
     Rude shocking and shaking the land?
Oh, what shall the writers, the sages,
The learned compilers of pages
     Say unto thee? What shall it be?

25

From out the deep mouth of the ages
     Oh, what shall there come unto thee?

Is it broken, thy faith, or but shaken?
     Is it dead, or only asleep?
Shall it waken again, shall it waken

30

     A light on a desolate deep?—
A light like the burst of the morning,
To warn thee with terrible warning
     Away from the breakers that roar,
With a voice that should silence thy scorning,

35

     On the iron-bound tempest-scarred shore? [Page 46]   

Shall the black-foaming chalice of sorrow
     Be held to thy star-litten lips?
Shall the sun that should light thee to-morrow
     Be blind with a total eclipse?           

40

Shall it be of thine own bitter potion
To see it sink down in the ocean
     All spiritless, cheerless, and cold,—
Deprived of the luminous motion
     That gladdened its being of old?

45


Shall the peoples in jubilant chorus
     Fling anthems of praise in thine ears,
Or shall clamors and curses sonorous
      Upward float from the throat of the years?
Shall thy portion be banning or blessing,

50

Shall thy portion be scorn or caressing,
     If any in Liberty’s fight
Should falter in future, expressing
     That thou art the cause of their flight? [Page 47]

Then thunders of curses assailing

55

     Shall fall on thy desolate head;
While earth to her centre is wailing
     The innocent blood thou hast shed:
The faithful who followed shall shun thee,
The darkness of hell be upon thee—

60

     Stern retribute justice but meet;—
And the laurels that chivalry won thee
     Fall faded and dead at thy feet.

But, if they who are writing thy story
     Bid those who seek freedom take heed

65

That the gore on thy hands is not glory,
     Nor glory each desperate deed:
Should Freedom uprising, forgetting
The sharp fratricidal blood-letting,
     To those who are seeking her tell

70

That this mighty upheaving, upsetting
     Was all for the best, it is well. [Page 48]

Then out of the sea of thy slaughters
     The sun of pure wisdom shall rise;
Earth’s sons, and her beautiful daughters,

75

     Shall echo thy praise to the skies,
And thank thee, O France, in their gladness,
For showing the madness of madness
     In characters written in flame,
And place with the cypress of sadness

80

     Upon thee the laurel of Fame! [Page 49]

 


 

IN AFTER DAYS.


I will accomplish that and this,
     And make myself a thorn to Things—
     Lords, councillors and tyrant kings—
Who sit upon their thrones and kiss

The rod of Fortune; and are crowned

5

     The sovereign masters of the earth
     To scatter blight and death and dearth
Wherever mortal man is found.    
   
I will do this and that, and break
     The backbone of their large conceit,

10

     And loose the sandals from their feet,
And show ’tis holy ground they shake.

So sang I in my earlier days,
     Ere I had learned to look abroad
     And see that more than monarchs trod

15

Upon the form I fain would raise. [Page 50]

Ere I, in looking toward the land
     That broke a triple diadem,
     That grasped at Freedom’s garment hem,
Had seen her, sword and torch in hand,

20


A freedom-fool: ere I had grown
     To know that Love is freedom’s strength—
     France taught the world that truth at length!—
And Peace her chief foundation stone.

Since then, I temper so my song

25

     That it may never speak for blood;
     May never say that ill is good;
Or say that right may spring from wrong:

Yet am what I have ever been—
     A friend of Freedom, staunch and true,

30

     Who hate a tyrant, be he—you—
A people,—sultan, czar, or queen! [Page 51]

And then the Freedom-haters came
     And questioned of my former song,
     If now I held it right, or wrong:

35

And still my answer was the same:—

The good still moveth towards the good:
     The ill still moveth towards the ill:
     But who affirmeth that we will
Not form a nobler brotherhood

40


When rabid fanatics, and those
     Who howl their “vives” to Freedom’s name
     And yet betray her unto shame,
Are dead and coffined with her foes. [Page 52]

 


 


Columbia.


And last, Columbia, at her feet
     The ruins of three giant wars,
Comes, robed in laurel, all complete,
     Her forehead garlanded with stars! [Page 53]

 


 

 

COLUMBIA.


The first, and most sublime
     Of all the lands
That ask reward of Time,
     Columbia stands.

For hope divinely fair

5

     Look not to Rome
And Athens!—Look not there;
     But here—at home.

For blood that she hath spilt,
     Let after days disclose

10

Where blame shall be: the guilt
     Be on her foes! [Page 54]

 


 

OUR HERO DEAD.*


Come, sons of Massachusetts! come
With stately step, with beat of drum,
     In proud and long array:
Nor mourn ye now the brave, nor weep
O’er those who sleep the soldier’s sleep,—

5

     Who are not here to-day.
Aye, come ye here for whom they bled—
The turf lie lightly on their head!—
     And come with high and reverent tread,
The tribute which ye owe the dead,

10

     Our hero-dead, to pay.

Our hero-dead! When rude alarms
Awoke a slumbering land to arms;
     When Freedom’s hope a moment failed;
When Freedom’s star a moment paled;

15

     When traitors sought to flee or fled;
When red Rebellion’s hand assailed
     The truths for which their fathers bled;
Who seized the flag they loved, and nailed
     It to the mast? Our hero-dead! [Page 55]

20


They came from cottage and from hall
As to some lordly festival,
     And yet with sterner look, perchance,
     For deep resolve was in each glance,
To answer Union’s trumpet-call.

25

On every hill, in every vale
     The sabre clashed, the anvil rang;
And on these came to breast the gale
     Of war, and prove from whom they sprang:—
From every vale, from every hill

30

These heroes came, and with a will,—
     For still the Syren Freedom sang.

What though on many a crumbling stone
Is stamped that mournful word—“Unknown”?
     What though some sleep in alien soil,—

35

          For battle claimed her share of spoil,—
     We reap the harvest of their toil:
The wildest storms of war they braved,
The Union that they loved they saved. [Page 56]
     In such a cause who fears to die,

40

When he who fights for Freedom fights
For man, and those diviner rights
     Indulged him from on high?

Name not his name! It still must be
A thing of scorn and infamy.

45

Name not his name, but let him fly
     Far from the glorious strife,
And tell his fettered children why
     He hoards his little life!
Name not his name! Unknown to fame,

50

     It shall not dwell upon the breeze:
But, blasted by the breath of shame,
     Shall fall beneath the centuries.

Name not his name! No glowing verse
     Shall tell his deeds of glory o’er;

55

But freeman’s scorn and bondsman’s curse
     Shall follow him forevermore,
These feared not death: they sought him, and
They met him boldly—sword in hand. [Page 57]

But hold! The valor of your sires

60

No ornate song from me requires:
     Their country called—they went, they won:
They wrote their names on glory’s page;
And left their sons, for heritage,
     The soil they tread to-day upon!

65


But come ye here, for whom they bled,—
Bloom brightly flowers above their head!—
     Come from your cottages and halls!
     A son, or sire, or brother calls;
And through their brother veterans’ souls

70

To-day the one proud feeling rolls—
     Their country called—they went!
     So then, with one consent,
In Freedom’s and in Honor’s name,
In that of filial love and fame,

75

     Unveil their monument!

 Boston, June, 1877.
[Page 58]


* On the unveiling of the monument on Boston common to the Soldiers who fell in the war of the Rebellion. [back]
 
 

 


 

BUNKER HILL.


The land was all in love to-day,
     Unknowing North, South, East, or West:
     To-night ’tis locked in peace and rest,
And all the continent is gay,
     And all the continent is blest.

5


Sing proudly, Stars of heaven, to-night!
     Shine brightly, spheres, that circle round,
     And flood the consecrated ground
With consecrated streams of light
     And consecrated waves of sound,

10


And, Northern maidens, floating near!—
     Oh, let your voices echo forth
     The golden gladness of the North
Into your Southern sisters ear—
     And make all melody and mirth!

15


And, soldiers of the Northern plumes,
     Thrice welcome bid each Southern band!
     One greeting from a brother’s hand
Is worth ten thousand hero-tombs
     To any man in any land!

20


Bunker Hill, June 17, 1875.
[Page 59]  

 


 


Erin.


Here Ireland, stricken, begs for balms,
     For broken heart and bruised flesh;
Still shows the nail-prints in her palms
     And cries, being crucified afresh.

And, ’twixt the fools who hate her most,

5

     And those who hurt her most—her own,
She has but little left to boast
     Save strength to struggle on alone,
 
And courage still to persevere
     In what she holds her right divine,

10

And faith to feel that some New Year
     Shall see her star of promise shine:

And so it shall! The season hastes
     O Erin, when the last of woes
Shall come to thee, and all thy wastes

15

     Shall bloom and blossom as the rose!

January 1st, 1884.  [Page 60]