APRIL 23, 1864
'Who claims our Shakespeare from that realm unknown,
Beyond the storm-vexed islands of the deep,
Where Genoa's roving mariner was blown?
Her twofold Saint's-day let our England keep;
Shall warring aliens share her holy task?'
The Old World echoes ask.
O land of Shakespeare! ours with all thy past,
Till these last years that make the sea so wide;
Think not the jar of battle's trumpet-blast
Has dulled our aching sense to joyous pride
In every noble word thy sons bequeathed
The air our fathers breathed!
War-wasted, haggard, panting from the strife,
We turn to other days and far-off lands,
Live o'er in dreams the Poet's faded life,
Come with fresh lilies in our fevered hands
To wreathe his bust, and scatter purple flowers,--
Not his the need, but ours!
We call those poets who are first to mark
Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn,--
Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark,
While others only note that day is gone;
For him the Lord of light the curtain rent
That veils the firmament.
The greatest for its greatness is half known,
Stretching beyond our narrow quadrant-lines,--
As in that world of Nature all outgrown
Where Calaveras lifts his awful pines,
And cast from Mariposa's mountain-wall
Nevada's cataracts fall.
Yet heaven's remotest orb is partly ours,
Throbbing its radiance like a beating heart;
In the wide compass of angelic powers
The instinct of the blindworm has its part;
So in God's kingliest creature we behold
The flower our buds infold.
With no vain praise we mock the stone-carved name
Stamped once on dust that moved with pulse and breath,
As thinking to enlarge that amplest fame
Whose undimmed glories gild the night of death:
We praise not star or sun; in these we see
Thee, Father, only thee!
Thy gifts are beauty, wisdom, power, and love:
We read, we reverence on this human soul,--
Earth's clearest mirror of the light above,--
Plain as the record on thy prophet's scroll,
When o'er his page the effluent splendors poured,
Thine own 'Thus saith the Lord!'
This player was a prophet from on high,
Thine own elected. Statesman, poet, sage,
For him thy sovereign pleasure passed them by;
Sidney's fair youth, and Raleigh's ripened age,
Spenser's chaste soul, and his imperial mind
Who taught and shamed mankind.
Therefore we bid our hearts' Te Deum rise,
Nor fear to make thy worship less divine,
And hear the shouted choral shake the skies,
Counting all glory, power, and wisdom thine;
For thy great gift thy greater name adore,
And praise thee evermore!
In this dread hour of Nature's utmost need,
Thanks for these unstained drops of freshening dew!
Oh, while our martyrs fall, our heroes bleed,
Keep us to every sweet remembrance true,
Till from this blood-red sunset springs new-born
Our Nation's second morn!