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.
 
295. The After-Comers
 
By Robert Traill Spence Lowell
 
 
        Ex noto fictum carmen…
…licuit semperque
licebit signatum præsente nota producere [carmen].
HOR. A. P. 240, 58, 59.
 
 
THOSE earlier men that owned our earth
When land and sea and skies were newer,
Had they, by eldest’s right of birth,
Sea stronger, greener land, sky bluer?
Had what they sang and drew more worth        5
That bards and painters then were fewer?
 
Their daisy, oak and rose were new;
Fresh runnels down their valleys babbled;
New were red lip, true eyes, fresh dew;
All dells, all shores, had not been rabbled;        10
Nor yet the rhyming lovers’ crew
Tree-bark and casement-pane had scrabbled.
 
Feelings sprang fresh, to them, and thought;
Fresh things were hope, trust, faith, endeavor;
All things were new, wherein men wrought,        15
And so they had the lead, forever.
To move the world their frank hearts sought
Not even where to set their lever.
 
Then utterance, like thought, was young,
And, when these yearning two were mated,        20
What shapes of airy life were flung
Before the world as yet unsated!
Life was in hand; life was in tongue;
Life in whatever they created.
 
Must then the world to us be stale?        25
Must we be only after-comers?
Must wilted green and sunshine pale
Make mean all our dear springs and summers?
To those free lords of song and tale
Must we be only tricked-out mummers?        30
 
Oh, no! was ever life-blood cold?
Was wit e’er dull, when mirth was in it?
Or when will blushing love be old?
Or thrill of bobolink or linnet?
Are all our blossoms touched with mould?        35
Lurks not fresh bloom where we may win it?
 
Yes! Life and strength forevercan;
Life springs afresh through endless ages;
Nor on our true work falls a ban,
That it must halt, at shortened stages:        40
Throw man into it! man draws man
In canvas, stone, or written pages.
 

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