Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1103. Henry Ward Beecher
 
By Charles Henry Phelps
 
 
HIS tongue was touched with sacred fire,
  He could not rest, he must speak out,
  When Liberty lay stabbed, and doubt
Stalked through the night in vestments dire,—
 
When slaves uplifted manacled hands,        5
  Praying in agony and despair,
  And answer came not anywhere,
But gloom through all the stricken lands,—
 
His voice for freedom instant rang.
  “For shame!” he cried; “spare thou the rod;        10
  All men are free before their God!”
The dragon answered with its fang.
 
’T is brave to face embrasured death
  Hot belching from the cannon’s mouth,
  Yet brave it is, for North or South,        15
And Truth, to face the mob’s mad breath.
 
So spake he then,—he and the few
  Who prized their manhood more than praise;
  Their faith failed not of better days
After the nights of bloody dew.        20
 
England’s great heart misunderstood:
  She looked upon her child askance;
  But heard his words and lowered her lance,
Remembering her motherhood.
 
Majestic Liberty, serene        25
  Thou frontest on the chaste white sea!
  Quench thou awhile thy torch, for he
Lies dead on whom thou once did lean.
 
Thy cause was ever his,—the slave
  In any fetters was his friend;        30
  His warfare never knew an end;
Wherever men lay bound he clave.
 

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