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.
 
1219. John Bright
 
By Francis Barton Gummere
 
 
I

FEW men of hero-mould
The Quaker counts amid his ranks to-day;
But, in the troublous times of old,
Before commodity’s loud gold
Drowned with its clank the clash of steel,        5
The Quaker held no devious way;
For him to see was but to feel,
To feel was but to say.
 
II

All hail those men of yore!
Amid innumerable disasters true        10
To that brave standard which they bore;
Whether amid the maddened roar
Of priest-led mobs, or scourged and flung
To die in gaols, or where the few
Sat waiting for the cloven tongue,        15
But one straight path they knew.
 
III

Yet peace breeds doubtful virtues. When the flame
Of persecution flickered, fell, expired,
So dimmed the old lustre; no hot shame
The wavering conscience fired.        20
So, when wild storms are past, and winds grow tame,
And the foiled tempest holds his hand,
The vessels cast safe anchor near the strand;
And sweet it seems a gentle sea to ride,
While lapping waters lave        25
The weary, battered side:—
“Ah, linger thus,” the shipmen cry, “near land,
Nor tempt again the buffets of the wave!”
They will not heed the voice
That calls from far and chides their choice:        30
He must not dally with the shore
Who thinks on noble gain,
But bend him stoutly to the oar,
And seek the midmost main,
And wrest their treasure from the clasp of wave and hurricane.        35
 
IV

Ho! pilot of the roaring seas!
No summer sailor thou;
It was no idle breeze
That set those manly lines upon thy brow;
For thou hast done what all to do are fain,        40
Yet few, ah, few attain,—
Hast never struck thy sail
And fled before the gale
Till it had spent its force,—
But sawest clear upon the chart of life        45
Thy straight-drawn track; and though the storm blew loud,
And elemental strife
In one mad whirl joined sea and cloud,
Thou hast but lashed thy helm and held thy course.
And for the manly heart and manly deed        50
Thy country loves thee,—gives
Honor unstinted as thy meed;
And they that still can hold
The Quaker name rejoice that one man lives
Who fills the measure of their hero-mould.        55
 
V

At glimpse of wrong, thy voice that knows not fear,
As sword from scabbard still hath leapt, and fills
With noblest echoes these wide halls of time.
We too, when tempests shook our western clime,
And all the air was rife with bodings grave,        60
Have felt new hope to hear
That voice of manly cheer,
And mark the signal of a friendly hand
From yon far strand
Where thy bluff England dashes back the wave.        65
 
VI

Brief be our word, yet strong.
So we this greeting send,
Stout English heart, across the severing sea,
Whose chainless waters blend
The breezes of two nations that are free;        70
Free, free for evermore!
And shore shall call to shore
In sister freedom till the end of time;
And still the thunder chime
Of that vast sea shall chorus the same song.        75
Ay, he who bends his ear
To those great tones, shall hear
Exultant voices, swelling high, proclaim
That thou, undaunted heart,
Hast played a hero’s part,        80
Joining with freedom’s deathless song thy deathless name.
 

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