previous next

101. “Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott.”

by John G. Whittier.
Luther's Hymn.)

We wait beneath the furnace blast
     The pangs of transformation;
Not painlessly doth God recast
     And mould anew the nation.
Hot burns the fire
     Where wrongs expire;
Nor spares the hand
     That from the land
Uproots the ancient evil.

The hand-breadth cloud the sages feared,
     Its bloody rain is dropping;
The poison plant the fathers spared,
     All else is overtopping.
East, West, South, North,
     It curses the earth:
All justice dies,
     And fraud and lies
Live only in its shadow.

What gives the wheat field blades of steel?
     What points the rebel cannon?
What sets the roaring rabble's heel
     On the old star-spangled pennon?
What breaks the oath
     Of the men oa the South?
What whets the knife
     For the Union's life?--
Hark to the answer :--Slavery!

Then waste no blows on lesser foes,
     In strife unworthy freemen.
God lifts to-day the veil, and shows
     The features of the demon!
O North and South,
     Its victims both,
Can ye not cry,
     “Let Slavery die!”
And union find in freedom?

What though the cast-out spirit tear
     The nation in his going?
We who have shared the guilt, must share
     The pang of his overthrowing!
Whate'er the loss,
     Whate'er the cross,
Shall they complain
     Of present pain,
Who trust in God's hereafter?

For who that leans on His right arm,
     Was ever yet forsaken?
What righteous cause can suffer harm,
     If He its part has taken?
Though wild and loud,
     And dark the cloud,
Behind its folds
     His hand upholds
The calm sky of to-morrow!

Above the maddening cry for blood,
     Above the wild war-drumming,
Let Freedom's voice be heard, with good
     The evil overcoming.
Give prayer and purse
     To stay The Curse,
Whose wrong we share,
     Whose shame we bear,
Whose end shall gladden Heaven!

In vain the bells of war shall ring
     Of triumphs and revenges,
While still is spared the evil thing
     That severs and estranges.
But, blest the ear
     That yet shall hear
The jubilant bell
     That rings the knell
Of Slavery forever!

Then let the selfish lip be dumb,
     And hushed the breath of sighing;
Before the joy of peace must come
     The pains of purifying.
God give us grace,
     Each in his place
To bear his lot,
     And, murmuring not,
Endure, and wait, and labor!

--N. Y. Independent, June 1.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John G. Whittier (1)
Gott (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: