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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 40 pages of information about Fifty years & Other Poems.
of “Fifty Years” (published exactly half-a-century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation) he has given us one of the noblest commemorative poems yet written by any American,—­a poem sonorous in its diction, vigorous in its workmanship, elevated in its imagination and sincere in its emotion.  In it speaks the voice of his race; and the race is fortunate in its spokesman.  In it a fine theme has been finely treated.  In it we are made to see something of the soul of the people who are our fellow citizens now and forever,—­even if we do not always so regard them.  In it we are glad to acclaim a poem which any living poet might be proud to call his own.

Brander Matthews.

Columbia University in the City of New York.

FIFTY YEARS & OTHER POEMS

FIFTY YEARS

1863-1913

    O brothers mine, to-day we stand
      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 winter’s day—­
      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 centuries! 
      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 trod,
      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 along
      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 be,
      Whereon thanksgivings we may lay,
    Where we, in deep humility,
      For faith and strength renewed may pray.

    With open hearts ask from above
      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 arise
      That we are here on sufferance bare;
    Outcasts, asylumed ’neath these skies,
      And aliens without part or share.

    This land is ours by right of birth,
      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 stood,—­
      Where flourished once rank weed and thorn,—­
    Behold the path-traced, peaceful wood,
      The cotton white, the yellow corn.

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