Columbia University in the City of New York.
FIFTY YEARS & OTHER POEMS
O brothers mine, to-day we
Where half a century sweeps our ken,
Since God, through Lincoln’s ready hand,
Struck off our bonds and made us men.
Just fifty years—a
As runs the history of a race;
Yet, as we look back o’er the way,
How distant seems our starting place!
Look farther back! Three
To where a naked, shivering score,
Snatched from their haunts across the seas,
Stood, wild-eyed, on Virginia’s shore.
Far, far the way that we have
From heathen kraals and jungle dens,
To freedmen, freemen, sons of God,
Americans and Citizens.
A part of His unknown design,
We’ve lived within a mighty age;
And we have helped to write a line
On history’s most wondrous page.
A few black bondmen strewn
The borders of our eastern coast,
Now grown a race, ten million strong,
An upward, onward marching host.
Then let us here erect a stone,
To mark the place, to mark the time;
A witness to God’s mercies shown,
A pledge to hold this day sublime.
And let that stone an altar
Whereon thanksgivings we may lay,
Where we, in deep humility,
For faith and strength renewed may pray.
With open hearts ask from
New zeal, new courage and new pow’rs,
That we may grow more worthy of
This country and this land of ours.
For never let the thought
That we are here on sufferance bare;
Outcasts, asylumed ’neath these skies,
And aliens without part or share.
This land is ours by right
This land is ours by right of toil;
We helped to turn its virgin earth,
Our sweat is in its fruitful soil.
Where once the tangled forest
Where flourished once rank weed and thorn,—
Behold the path-traced, peaceful wood,
The cotton white, the yellow corn.