Fifty years & Other Poems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about Fifty years & Other Poems.

    O whitened head entwined in turban gay,
    O kind black face, O crude, but tender hand,
    O foster-mother in whose arms there lay
    The race whose sons are masters of the land! 
    It was thine arms that sheltered in their fold,
    It was thine eyes that followed through the length
    Of infant days these sons.  In times of old
    It was thy breast that nourished them to strength.

    So often hast thou to thy bosom pressed
    The golden head, the face and brow of snow;
    So often has it ’gainst thy broad, dark breast
    Lain, set off like a quickened cameo. 
    Thou simple soul, as cuddling down that babe
    With thy sweet croon, so plaintive and so wild,
    Came ne’er the thought to thee, swift like a stab,
    That it some day might crush thine own black child?


(On the Anniversary of Lincoln’s Birth)

    Father, Father Abraham,
      To-day look on us from above;
    On us, the offspring of thy faith,
      The children of thy Christ-like love.

    For that which we have humbly wrought,
      Give us to-day thy kindly smile;
    Wherein we’ve failed or fallen short,
      Bear with us, Father, yet awhile.

    Father, Father Abraham,
      To-day we lift our hearts to thee,
    Filled with the thought of what great price
      Was paid, that we might ransomed be.

    To-day we consecrate ourselves
      Anew in hand and heart and brain,
    To send this judgment down the years: 
      The ransom was not paid in vain.


    See!  There he stands; not brave, but with an air
    Of sullen stupor.  Mark him well!  Is he
    Not more like brute than man?  Look in his eye! 
    No light is there; none, save the glint that shines
    In the now glaring, and now shifting orbs
    Of some wild animal caught in the hunter’s trap.

        How came this beast in human shape and form? 
    Speak, man!—­We call you man because you wear
    His shape—­How are you thus?  Are you not from
    That docile, child-like, tender-hearted race
    Which we have known three centuries?  Not from
    That more than faithful race which through three wars
    Fed our dear wives and nursed our helpless babes
    Without a single breach of trust?  Speak out!

        I am, and am not.

Then who, why are you?

        I am a thing not new, I am as old
    As human nature.  I am that which lurks,
    Ready to spring whenever a bar is loosed;
    The ancient trait which fights incessantly
    Against restraint, balks at the upward climb;
    The weight forever seeking to obey
    The law of downward pull;—­and I am more: 
    The bitter fruit am I of planted seed;
    The resultant, the inevitable end
    Of evil forces and the powers of wrong.

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Fifty years & Other Poems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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