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[70]
They faced their fate with tranquil breath,
And wrought their work with trusting heart.
For tireless hope and energy,
And faith sublime, and lofty pride,
That bent to naught but Heaven the knee,
Were in those souls personified.

And so they grasped the magic ax,
And swept the forest as they went;
Wherever shone their living tracks,
The hamlet rose — the harvest bent.
Theirs too was high, far-reaching thought;
Knowledge and godly wisdom swayed--
Thus, while with sinewy hand they wrought,
An empire's corner-stone they laid.
Not one to fear a despot's frown--
To wither in a sceptre's blight;
Justice alone should wear the crown--
The only sceptre, Human Right.

And, vital pulse of every heart,
One principle played mightiest part--
Taught by the crag's cloud-piercing form,
The cataract thundering down the rock,
The eagle dashing through the storm,
The frenzied flood, the whirlwind's shock,
The boundless sweep of forest-sea--
It was the love of Liberty

O Liberty! gift celestial,
Twined deep in the Deity's plan!
Thy glorious life is immortal,
And yields the best blessings to man.
Thou art twin to the chainless lightning,
The maddened tornado's flight;
Thou dancest in bound of the billow
And glancest in gleam of the light.

No blossom art thou of the garden,
To breathe in the sunshine warm;
Thou swingest upon the pine top,
To the roar of the grappling storm.
The strength that would challenge the whirlwind
Dissolves in the valley of flowers;
The voice that sounds mate to the thunder
Would sink in soft melody's bowers.

A warrior, grim and frowning,
Thou springest upon thy steed,
Armed for the battle to conquer
Or die in the moment of need.
When the battle is ended, thou leanest
Ever thine ear to the ground,
And ready to clutch thy falchion
To danger's most far-away sound.

O Liberty! gift celestial,
What glorious joys are thine?
Yet to few of the earth is given
To watch o'er thy holy shrine.
Oh! many the hearts that are fettered
In tyranny's cruel gyves;
But among them the seed is scattered
Where Liberty's germ survives.

And sometimes the seed springs upward
To wildest and fiercest life;
Ah! how the world has tottered
In the quake of the dreadful strife I
The earth. has turned red with slaughter,
And Liberty, torn and stained,
Down to the dust has been cloven;
But its life — its life remained.

And again, to its feet upleaping,
Again it has dared the fight;
And as long as earth stands will the battle
Rage on between Might and Right.
O Liberty! born of heaven!
Not always the despot's ban
Will darken the light of thy glory--
Thy light is immortal in man.

And such the light our fathers knew;
Thus, when Oppression stealthy came,
Up to the sun their front they drew,
With voice of storm and eye of flame.
At the Virginian's trumpet-breath
Of “Give me Liberty or death!”
Bounded our nation to the fray,
As from night's shadow bounds the day.
On went the words, winged fierce with ire,
Like the dread tongues of cloven fire.
Bear witness, blazoned battle-fields,
What bolts an uproused nation wields!
A living lustre flashes forth--
Fields, bounded not by South or North,
But scattered wide, in every part--
Sword joined to sword, and heart to heart;
Where Hudson rolls its lordly tide,
And where the broad Potomac flows,
Where Susquehanna's waters glide,
And where St. Mary's silver glows.

Then to the struggles of the free
Kind heaven vouchsafed the victory.
Sheathing the lightnings of her brand,
And sharpening ax, and guiding plough,
Swift onward went our happy Land,
With flowery feet and starry brow.
A continent was ours to bless
With Liberty's own happiness;
A happiness of equal right--
Of government to rest on all--
Of law, whose broad and steadfast light
On each obedient heart should fall.
In Union's sacred bond they reared
A Union temple, and the sun
Never a fairer fabric cheered;
Our starry flag, with trophies won
In many a fight on sea and shore,
Waved in its blazoned beauty o'er.
From where the half-year sleeps in snow
To where Magnolian breezes blow,
Our eagle flew, and saw no break
In the expanse that God had joined.
Ours was some sheltered, happy lake,
Which, though the transient breeze might shake,
Yet by the sun again was coined
To peaceful gold, and upward sent
Its grateful smile of blest content.
Then came the storm — the darkness fell--
Dashed the wild billows to the blast;
And, staggering on the foaming swell,
With shivering sail and quivering mast,
Fierce breakers crashing on her lee,
In the red lightning's angry glare,
Kindling alone the blackened air,
Our once proud Ship of State we see.
And, bearing down, a phantom bark,
In lurid light its trappings wound--
Sides darting fires along the dark,
Terrific thunders roaring round--

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