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[253] So runs the ancient legend
     By bard and painter told;
And lo! the cycle rounds again,
     The new is as the old!

With rudder foully broken,
     And sails by traitors torn,
Our country on a midnight sea
     Is waiting for the morn.

Before her, nameless terror;
     Behind, the pirate foe;
The clouds are black above her,
     The sea is white below.

The hope of all who suffer,
     The dread of all who wrong,
She drifts in darkness and in storm,
     How long, O Lord! how long?

But courage, O my mariners!
     Ye shall not suffer wreck,
While up to God the freedman's prayers
     Are rising from your deck.

Is not your sail the banner
     Which God hath blest anew,
The mantle that De Matha wore,
     The red, the white, the blue?

Its hues are all of heaven,—
     The red of sunset's dye,
The whiteness of the moon-lit cloud,
     The blue of morning's sky.

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De Matha (1)
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