Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Oliver Wendell Holmes. 1809–1894
 
108. A Voice of the Loyal North
 
National Fast, January 4, 1861
 
WE sing "Our Country's" song to-night 
  With saddened voice and eye; 
Her banner droops in clouded light 
  Beneath the wintry sky. 
We 'll pledge her once in golden wine         5
  Before her stars have set: 
Though dim one reddening orb may shine, 
  We have a Country yet. 
  
'T were vain to sigh o'er errors past, 
  The fault of sires or sons;  10
Our soldier heard the threatening blast, 
  And spiked his useless guns; 
He saw the star-wreathed ensign fall, 
  By mad invaders torn; 
But saw it from the bastioned wall  15
  That laughed their rage to scorn! 
  
What though their angry cry is flung 
  Across the howling wave,— 
They smite the air with idle tongue 
  The gathering storm who brave;  20
Enough of speech! the trumpet rings; 
  Be silent, patient, calm,— 
God help them if the tempest swings 
  The pine against the palm! 
  
Our toilsome years have made us tame;  25
  Our strength has slept unfelt; 
The furnace-fire is slow to flame 
  That bids our ploughshares melt; 
'T is hard to lose the bread they win 
  In spite of Nature's frowns,—  30
To drop the iron threads we spin 
  That weave our web of towns, 
  
To see the rusting turbines stand 
  Before the emptied flumes, 
To fold the arms that flood the land  35
  With rivers from their looms,— 
But harder still for those who learn 
  The truth forgot so long; 
When once their slumbering passions burn, 
  The peaceful are the strong!  40
  
The Lord have mercy on the weak, 
  And calm their frenzied ire, 
And save our brothers ere they shriek, 
  "We played with Northern fire!" 
The eagle hold his mountain height,—  45
  The tiger pace his den! 
Give all their country, each his right! 
  God keep us all! Amen! 
 
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