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[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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