previous next

The nation.

by Alfred B. Street.
Union! it draws from heaven its birth,
Linking the pine-tree with the sod,
The unseen atom with the earth,
The systems with the throne of God.
The eagle, soaring to the sun,
Joins with the bee that seeks the flower;
The ocean with the drop of dew,
The bubble with the boundless blue,
The stars in endless course that run
With fire-fly sparks of twilight's hour.

And in the wondrous world of man,
Strongest this mystic web is twined;
What soul can live in lonely ban?
Heart leaps to heart, and mind to mind--
Deed vibrates unto deed — the chain
Joins with another's weal or woe;
The father's sins, in lengthened reign
Of influence dire, the son shall know.
His virtues, too, the child shall bless;
And thus a touch shall yield its meed
Of misery or of happiness
In this electric web of deed.

Union the car of progress speeds--
By it the steamship lords the deep;
It drives the railway's thundering steeds--
Along the wire its lightnings leap.

My native land, to thee was given
A Union blest by favoring heaven!
Our fathers wrought with direst toil
The chain in fortune's fiercest flame;
From battle's fearfullest turmoil
Our glorious young Republic came.
Nobly they dared the dangerous deep,
Spurning the cultured joys of life;
And in the forest's boundless sweep
Existence linked to endless strife.
But though the ambush gleamed with death,
Disease and famine aimed the dart, [70]
They faced their fate with tranquil breath,
And wrought their work with trusting heart.
For tireless hope and energy,
And faith sublime, and lofty pride,
That bent to naught but Heaven the knee,
Were in those souls personified.

And so they grasped the magic ax,
And swept the forest as they went;
Wherever shone their living tracks,
The hamlet rose — the harvest bent.
Theirs too was high, far-reaching thought;
Knowledge and godly wisdom swayed--
Thus, while with sinewy hand they wrought,
An empire's corner-stone they laid.
Not one to fear a despot's frown--
To wither in a sceptre's blight;
Justice alone should wear the crown--
The only sceptre, Human Right.

And, vital pulse of every heart,
One principle played mightiest part--
Taught by the crag's cloud-piercing form,
The cataract thundering down the rock,
The eagle dashing through the storm,
The frenzied flood, the whirlwind's shock,
The boundless sweep of forest-sea--
It was the love of Liberty

O Liberty! gift celestial,
Twined deep in the Deity's plan!
Thy glorious life is immortal,
And yields the best blessings to man.
Thou art twin to the chainless lightning,
The maddened tornado's flight;
Thou dancest in bound of the billow
And glancest in gleam of the light.

No blossom art thou of the garden,
To breathe in the sunshine warm;
Thou swingest upon the pine top,
To the roar of the grappling storm.
The strength that would challenge the whirlwind
Dissolves in the valley of flowers;
The voice that sounds mate to the thunder
Would sink in soft melody's bowers.

A warrior, grim and frowning,
Thou springest upon thy steed,
Armed for the battle to conquer
Or die in the moment of need.
When the battle is ended, thou leanest
Ever thine ear to the ground,
And ready to clutch thy falchion
To danger's most far-away sound.

O Liberty! gift celestial,
What glorious joys are thine?
Yet to few of the earth is given
To watch o'er thy holy shrine.
Oh! many the hearts that are fettered
In tyranny's cruel gyves;
But among them the seed is scattered
Where Liberty's germ survives.

And sometimes the seed springs upward
To wildest and fiercest life;
Ah! how the world has tottered
In the quake of the dreadful strife I
The earth. has turned red with slaughter,
And Liberty, torn and stained,
Down to the dust has been cloven;
But its life — its life remained.

And again, to its feet upleaping,
Again it has dared the fight;
And as long as earth stands will the battle
Rage on between Might and Right.
O Liberty! born of heaven!
Not always the despot's ban
Will darken the light of thy glory--
Thy light is immortal in man.

And such the light our fathers knew;
Thus, when Oppression stealthy came,
Up to the sun their front they drew,
With voice of storm and eye of flame.
At the Virginian's trumpet-breath
Of “Give me Liberty or death!”
Bounded our nation to the fray,
As from night's shadow bounds the day.
On went the words, winged fierce with ire,
Like the dread tongues of cloven fire.
Bear witness, blazoned battle-fields,
What bolts an uproused nation wields!
A living lustre flashes forth--
Fields, bounded not by South or North,
But scattered wide, in every part--
Sword joined to sword, and heart to heart;
Where Hudson rolls its lordly tide,
And where the broad Potomac flows,
Where Susquehanna's waters glide,
And where St. Mary's silver glows.

Then to the struggles of the free
Kind heaven vouchsafed the victory.
Sheathing the lightnings of her brand,
And sharpening ax, and guiding plough,
Swift onward went our happy Land,
With flowery feet and starry brow.
A continent was ours to bless
With Liberty's own happiness;
A happiness of equal right--
Of government to rest on all--
Of law, whose broad and steadfast light
On each obedient heart should fall.
In Union's sacred bond they reared
A Union temple, and the sun
Never a fairer fabric cheered;
Our starry flag, with trophies won
In many a fight on sea and shore,
Waved in its blazoned beauty o'er.
From where the half-year sleeps in snow
To where Magnolian breezes blow,
Our eagle flew, and saw no break
In the expanse that God had joined.
Ours was some sheltered, happy lake,
Which, though the transient breeze might shake,
Yet by the sun again was coined
To peaceful gold, and upward sent
Its grateful smile of blest content.
Then came the storm — the darkness fell--
Dashed the wild billows to the blast;
And, staggering on the foaming swell,
With shivering sail and quivering mast,
Fierce breakers crashing on her lee,
In the red lightning's angry glare,
Kindling alone the blackened air,
Our once proud Ship of State we see.
And, bearing down, a phantom bark,
In lurid light its trappings wound--
Sides darting fires along the dark,
Terrific thunders roaring round-- [71]
Comes flashing through the awful gloom
With threatening of impending doom.
Heaven save the Ship! in godly care
The stately mould our fathers wrought;
Her sails of States, in Union, caught--
Union alone — the favoring air.
Our fathers' blood her firm cement,
Their hearts the planks that formed the pile,
Their prayers the blue above it bent,
Their virtues the surrounding smile.

And shall that Ship, in hopeless shock,
Be dashed upon Disunion's rock?
Shall we not, on the severing sky,
See some gray tinge of softness cast,
Prophetic of the crimson dye,
The glorious sunburst throws at last?

Ye stately shades — O glorious sires!
Bend from the clouds of darkness now
With memory-waking battle-fires,
Flashing from every awful brow!
Throughout the realm hath shone your blade,
Throughout the realm your bones are laid!
For the whole realm ye fought and died;
Descend! march round on every side!
Come Sumter, Marion, Greene, and Wayne!
And thou, O stateliest Washington!
Lead through the land the mighty train--
The lovely land the heroes won.
Touch every heart with kindly flame,
Sweep every barrier-cloud away,
And rear again the Union's frame
The brighter from its new array.
Let our broad banner stream to view
Without a stain, without a rent--
With every star in brightened blue,
With every stripe more beauteous blent.

Dear flag of our fathers! how wildly
It streams to the hurricane's might!
Yet no more shall be quenched in the darkness
Than the sunshine be swept from the sight.

It was born in the tumult of battle,
When the land rocked with wrath at the foe,
And Liberty, striving and reeling,
Rained blood at each terrible blow.

There was naught on the yoked earth to render
Fit emblems that flag to adorn;
So the sky — the grand symbol of freedom--
Sent gifts from its night and its morn.

The stars shone for hopes to be kindled
Anew from dark tyranny's sway;
And the stripes beamed for courage and patience,
Fresh dawning to lead up the day.

Thus favored above, changing fortune
Came smiling our banner to join;
And the first its bright folds were expanded,
It waved over conquered Burgoyne.

Though it trembled at times to the tempest,
And clouds o'er its blazonry passed,
Our eagle thence wafted it onward,
Till proudly 'twas planted at last.

And now, as we gaze on its splendors,
In the heart what starred memories rise I
Of worthies with feet in our pathways,
But glorified brows in the skies.

High lifted — the foremost among them--
Our Nation's great Father is seen,
With figure in mould so majestic,
And face so benign and serene.

And Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin
There shine in the stately array;
And there the wreathed forehead of Jackson,
And there the grand presence of Clay.

And battle-fields, trophied in honor,
On the breast of the banner are rife--
The evergreen summit of Bunker,
And Trenton's wild winter-tossed strife.

And proudly our own Saratoga,
Where the first of our triumphs was won
And Yorktown — that height of our glory,
Where burst our victorious sun.

Then, hail to our sky-blazoned banner!
It has brightened the shore and the sea;
And soon may it wave o'er one nation,
The starred and striped flag of the free!

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 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.
Wayne (1)
Swift (1)
Alfred B. Street (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
Hudson (1)
Nathanael Greene (1)
Franklin (1)
Henry Clay (1)
Burgoyne (1)
Adams (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: