Once I wished I might rehearse
Freedom’s paean in my verse,
That the slave who caught the strain
Should throb until he snapped his chain,
But the Spirit said, ’Not so;
Speak it not, or speak it low;
Name not lightly to be said,
Gift too precious to be prayed,
Passion not to be expressed
But by heaving of the breast:
Yet,—wouldst thou the mountain find
Where this deity is shrined,
Who gives to seas and sunset skies
Their unspent beauty of surprise,
And, when it lists him, waken can
Brute or savage into man;
Or, if in thy heart he shine,
Blends the starry fates with thine,
Draws angels nigh to dwell with thee,
And makes thy thoughts archangels be;
Freedom’s secret wilt thou know?—
Counsel not with flesh and blood;
Loiter not for cloak or food;
Right thou feelest, rush to do.’
SUNG IN THE TOWN HALL, CONCORD, JULY 4, 1857
O tenderly the haughty day
Fills his blue urn with fire;
One morn is in the mighty heaven,
And one in our desire.
The cannon booms from town to town,
Our pulses beat not less,
The joy-bells chime their tidings down,
Which children’s voices bless.
For He that flung the broad blue fold
O’er-mantling land and sea,
One third part of the sky unrolled
For the banner of the free.
The men are ripe of Saxon kind
To build an equal state,—
To take the statute from the mind
And make of duty fate.
United States! the ages plead,—
Present and Past in under-song,—
Go put your creed into your deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.
For sea and land don’t understand,
Nor skies without a frown
See rights for which the one hand fights
By the other cloven down.
Be just at home; then write your scroll
Of honor o’er the sea,
And bid the broad Atlantic roll,
A ferry of the free.
And henceforth there shall be no chain,
Save underneath the sea
The wires shall murmur through the main
Sweet songs of liberty.
The conscious stars accord above,
The waters wild below,
And under, through the cable wove,
Her fiery errands go.
For He that worketh high and wise.
Nor pauses in his plan,
Will take the sun out of the skies
Ere freedom out of man.
READ IN MUSIC HALL, JANUARY 1, 1863
The word of the Lord by night
To the watching Pilgrims came,
As they sat by the seaside,
And filled their hearts with flame.
God said, I am tired of kings,
I suffer them no more;
Up to my ear the morning brings
The outrage of the poor.