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14. one word.

Speak to us, to-day, O Father!
     Our hearts are strangely stirred--
A Nation's life is hanging
     On a yet unspoken word.

Long, by the hearthstone corner,
     May the aged grandame sit,
And toil, with trembling fingers,
     That another sock be knit--

Men may march and manoeuvre,
     And camp on fields of death--
The iron saurians wheel and dart,
     And thunder their fiery breath--

But one brave word is wanting--
     The word whose tone should start
The pulses of men to flamelets
     Thrilling through every heart!

O Father! trust your children!
     If ever you found them fail,
'Twas but for lack of the one true word
     That must to the end prevail.

Where funeral willows quiver
     On the banks of the Mighty River,
'Twas seen what men may do--
     Flame ahead, and flame to larboard!
(Aye, the Pit's Mouth burned blue!)
     Not a craven thought was harbored--
'Twas hell to port and starboard,
     But the Hearts of Oak went through!

They have shown what men may do,
     They have proved how men may die--
Count, who can, the fields they've pressed,
     Each face to the solemn sky!

[14] Is it yet forgotten, of Shiloh
     And the long outnumbered lines,
How the blue frocks lay in winrows?
     How they died at the Seven Pines?

How they sank in the Varuna,
     (Seven foes in flame around!)?
How they went down with the Cumberland,
     Firing, cheering as they drowned?

Spirits, a hundred of thousands,
     Eager, and bold, and true,
Gone to make good one brave, just word--
     Father, they died for you

Died, in tempest of battle,
     Died, in the cot's dull pain--
Let their ghosts be glad in heaven,
     That they died — and not in vain!

Now, never fear lest the living
     Should shrink at the sound, “Be Free!” --
They shall yet make up the million,
     And another, if need there be!

But fail not, as thy trust is heaven,
     To breathe the word shall wake
The soul and heart of a Nation--
     Speak it, for Christ's dear sake!

Speak it, our earthly Father!
     In the name of His — and smile
At one more breath of the viper
     Whose fangs shall crash on the file!

The Angel-Songs are forever,
     The snake can hiss but his day--
Speak, O Shepherd of Peoples!
     And fold earth's blessings for aye.

--Hartford Press.

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