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129. Redemption.

Hush quivering sighs!
     Dry streaming eyes,
Who watch the war-cloud's billowy course;
     For nations rise
Through sacrifice;
     For this, earth bears her children's loss;
For this the scourge, for this the cross.

Pray, mothers, pray!
     For those who may
'Mid warring armies sink to rest;
     But in their loss,
Behold the cross,
     And in each blood-drop from each breast,
See the red tide that Calvary pressed.

“We did not fear!”
     Year after year
The nation held its prosperous way;--
     Grew white with cant,
And huge with rant,
     And cried, “O, hear the asses bray,”
When wise men warned us of this day.

Manacled hands,
     Marred with brands,
Through weary years were reared on high,
     Pleading with tears.
Who hears? Who hears
     Their tearful pleading, woful cry,--
In Slavery's hell let us not die!

Through threatening death,
     With moaning breath,
From worse than death, they Northward fled;
     Those pleading hands,
In Freedom's lands,
     To Freedom's sons, were raised her head,
With eyes that spake their harrowing dread.

But we've stood by,
     All leashed and “spry,”
We Northern slave-hounds, giving tongue,
     Until we heard
Our master's word--
     Then off upon his track we sprung;
Fast to his bleeding form we hung.

[105] Our manhood gone,
     They gave us scorn--
Our Southern masters — for our pains;
     Hot insults hiss--
(We thought it bliss!)
     Their loathsome scorns, polluting stains,
And hounded better for our shames.

They bolder grew--
     (Chivalrous crew!)
And swore the people's mighty will
     Should never o'er
The Southern shore
     Its sovereign purposes fulfil,
Or tread the Capitoline hill.

He prayed so hard,
     And “hem'd” and “ha'd,”
The Wheatland Sage, with feigned surprise.
     And what did we?
(Shades of the Free!)
     Did we from off our knees arise?
No! no! we whimpered, “Compromise!”

It came at last--
     Hell!--well, 'tis past,
That damned blow, fair in our eyes.
     Our boiling blood
Flew in a flood
     Through every vein. The nation cries,
War to the death! till every traitor dies!

Hear, Freemen,. hear!
     Crush dastard fear I
Gird Freedom's armor on your back.
     See! see, afar,
Through gathering war,
     Our banner-bird looms through the rack--
The Eagle's on the Viper's track!

It may be years,
     Ere bondsmen's tears
Shall cease to flow from shore to shore.
     But come it will--
(Stand still! stand still!)
     The fiery pillar goes before--
The Red Sea's crossed-They're slaves no more!

Dry streaming eyes,
     Hush quivering sighs,
Who watch the war-clouds' billowy course;
     For nations rise
Through sacrifice;
     For this, earth bears her children's loss,
For this the scourge, for this the cross.

W. F. L.

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