The Poems of Henry Van Dyke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about The Poems of Henry Van Dyke.

IV

      O banner of the west,
      No proud and brief parade,
      That glorifies a nation’s holiday
  With show of troops for warfare dressed,
      Can rightly measure or display
      The mighty army thou hast made
  Loyal to guard thy more than royal sway. 
      Millions have come across the sea
      To find beneath thy shelter room to grow;
  Millions were born beneath thy folds and know
      No other flag but thee. 
  And other, darker millions bore the yoke
  Of bondage in thy borders till the voice
      Of Lincoln spoke,
  And sent thee forth to set the bondmen free. 
      Rejoice, dear flag, rejoice! 
  Since thou hast proved and passed that bitter strife,
  Richer thy red with blood of heroes wet,
  Purer thy white through sacrificial life,
  Brighter thy blue wherein new stars are set. 
      Thou art become a sign,
  Revealed in heaven to speak of things divine: 
      Of Truth that dares
      To slay the lie it sheltered unawares;
      Of Courage fearless in the fight,
  Yet ever quick its foemen to forgive;
  Of Conscience earnest to maintain its right
  And gladly grant the same to all who live. 
      Thy staff is deeply planted in the fact
      That nothing can ennoble man
      Save his own act,
  And naught can make him worthy to be free
  But practice in the school of liberty. 
  The cords are two that lift thee to the sky: 
  Firm faith in God, the King who rules on high;
      And never-failing trust
  In human nature, full of faults and flaws,
  Yet ever answering to the inward call
  That bids it set the “ought” above the “must,”
  In all its errors wiser than it seems,
  In all its failures full of generous dreams,
  Through endless conflict rising without pause
  To self-dominion, charactered in laws
  That pledge fair-play alike to great and small,
  And equal rights for each beneath the rule of all. 
      These are thy halyards, banner bold,
      And while these hold,
  Thy brightness from the sky shall never fall,
  Thy broadening empire never know decrease,—­
  Thy strength is union and thy glory peace.

V

  Look forth across thy widespread lands,
  O flag, and let thy stars to-night be eyes
      To see the visionary hosts
  Of men and women grateful to be thine,
      That joyfully arise
  From all thy borders and thy coasts,
  And follow after thee in endless line! 
  They lift to thee a forest of saluting hands;
  They hail thee with a rolling ocean-roar
      Of cheers; and as the echo dies,
  There comes a sweet and moving song
  Of treble voices from the childish throng
  Who run to thee from every school-house door. 
  Behold thine army!  Here thy power

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Project Gutenberg
The Poems of Henry Van Dyke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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