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55. ode to America.

by Geo. H. Boker.
No more of girls and wine,
     No more of pastoral joys,
No after-sighing for some antique line
     Of bearded kings who, at their nation's birth,
As children play with toys,
     Made merry with our earth:
No more, no more of these!
     The girls are pale;
The wine is drunken to the less;
     Still are the bleatings of the woolly fold;
The olden kings look thin and cold,
     Like dim belated ghosts
That hurrying sail
     Toward their dark graves,
Along the brightening coasts,
     Chased by the golden lances hurled
From the young sun above his cloudy world.

My country, let me turn to thee,
     With love and pride that glow
Pure as twin-altar fires that blow
     Their flames together to one Deity.
Look where I may,
     O land beneath the iron sway
Of the strong hand;--
     O land gored through and through
By thy own faithless brand;
     Land of once happy homes,
To whose now darkened doors
     The hand of sorrow comes,
Early and late, and pours,
     With no soft prelude, or no warning beat,
Her urn of bitter tears before thy feet!

O suffering, patient land,
     Thou bearest thy awful woe
So grandly, with such high command
     Of tears, that dare not flow
For the great godlike smile
     Which crowns thy lips the while,
And stills thy mighty heart to move
     As calmly on as when the hand of love
Guided thy peaceful realm,
     And idly swung the almost useless helm;
That I, who, in my erring thought,
     Have often wronged thy fame,
By sneers and taunts of blame,
     Bow down with penitence o'erwrought,
And pangs of reverent shame.

Thy rulers put aside thy rights;
     Thou murmurest not:
Still They waste thy gold;
     Still thy great cause is not forgot.
Thy ancient foe grows loud, and bold
     To proffer counsel, jeers, and spurns;
The swaggering coward burns
     With new-found courage; England smites
Thy sensitive, proud cheek:
     Smites, like a craven, when she deems thee weak!
Thy pale, stern features blush,
     Thy passionate arteries gush
With hot rebellious blood:
     But thou stillest the raging flood;
Thou seemest to listen, in a patient hush,
     To the audacious kings,
As they prattle empty things.
     Thy pale, stern features blush,
From thy heart the churl is spurned;
     But thy ready sinews pause,
Remembering thy holy cause,
     And the blow is not returned!

Not yet, not yet! Oh! bear,
     As the lion in his lair,
Whetting his teeth, and gathering all his strength,
     Bears the insulting cry
Of hunters drawing nigh
     The dreadful door of his invaded home:
Whence, with a roar and bound, at length--
     With bristling hair, with mane that rolls
Above his fiery eyes,
     Like the tumultuous vapors of the skies,
Above the piercing lightning — he shall come,
     The lordly beast, whose lifted paw controls
The fatal ends of life, and, in his wrath,
     Sweep from his onward path
The awe-struck phalanx of his enemies!
     I saw thy many squadrons file and form;
I saw them driving through a deadly storm
     Of shot and shell,
Where thousands fell;
     But who survived, ah! they, indeed,
Were soldiers true; a race to breed
     Avenging warriors, ripening for the day
When thou shalt cast thy shame away.

[41] I saw thy mail-clad fleets, whose ponderous arms
     Laugh at the toys of Europe, daily grow
By stream and silent lake.
     I saw them glide and take
The sheltered waters, as the wild swan glides,
     With scarce a ripple at their moulded sides,
To mar the current in its onward flow.
     Swiftly they gathered, by the rising walls
Of armed ports;
     Hither and thither at prodigious sports,
To try their watery wings, they sped;
     Then snuffed a welcome from the briny breeze,
And, with one will, away they fled
     To join their dusky sisters of the seas!
I saw it all; and bending low,
     My lips against thy ear I set,
With “Hist! a hope begins to grow!
     Bear on, bear on! Not yet, not yet!”

O glory of our race,
     Long suffering guardian of the free,
Thou who canst dare to be,
     For a great purpose, in a lowly place!--
Thou who canst stretch the olive o'er the wave,
     And smite the master of the slave,
Yet wisely measure all
     That might and must befall
Ere the great end shall crown the thing to be!--
     How shall I honor thee?
How shall I fitly speak,
     In song so faint and weak,
Of majesty and wisdom such as thine?
     For now the scales so long,
Held on the side of wrong,
     To thee again incline;
And thou mayst lift thy radiant head,
     And bind thy ring of reappearing stars
About thy forehead, and forget thy scars
     In joy at holding that for which they bled!
Resume thy place, unchallenged now,
     Nor bow thy glories to the haughtiest brow
That wears a royal crown!
     False prophets scowled thee down,
And whispered darkly of thy coming fate:
     The cause, the way, the date,
They wrote for thee with the slow augur's hand.--
     Their lies were scrawled in sand!
They perished utterly!
     What is the splendor of the diadem,
The gilded throne, the broidered carpet-hem,
     The purple robe, the sceptre, and the strain
Of foregone kings, whose race
     Defies the herald's trace,
Before thy regal steps on land and main?
     There are some deeds so grand
That their mighty doers stand
     Ennobled, in a moment, more than kings:
And such deeds, 0 land sublime,
     Need no sanctity from time;
Their own epoch they create,
     Whence all meaner things take date;
Then exalt thee, for such noble deeds were thine!
     Envy nothing born of earth,
Rank nor wealth nor ancient birth,
     Nor the glittering sorrows of a crown.
O nation, take in stead
     Thy measureless renown,
To wrap thy young limbs like a royal stole,
     And God's own flaming aureole,
To settle on thy head!

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