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.
 
516. Alma Mater’s Roll
 
Phi Beta Kappa Dinner, Harvard, 1875
 
By Edward Everett Hale
 
 
I SAW her scan her sacred scroll,
I saw her read her record roll
Of men who wrought to win the right,
Of men who fought and died in fight;—
When now, a hundred years by-gone        5
The day she welcomed Washington,
She showed to him her boys and men,
And told him of their duty then.
 
“Here are the beardless boys I sent,
And the whispered to them my intent        10
To free a struggling continent.
“The marks upon this scroll will show
Their words a hundred years ago.
 
“Otis!” “No lesser death was given
To him than by a bolt from heaven!”        15
“Quincy!” “He died before he heard
The echo of his thunder word.”
“And these were stripling lads whom I
Sent out to speak a nation’s cry,
In ‘glittering generality’        20
Of living words that cannot die:
 
“John Hancock!” “Here.” “John Adams!” “Here.”
“Paine, Gerry, Hooper, Williams!” “Here.”
“My Narragansett Ellery!” “Here.”
“Sam Adams, first of freemen!” “Here.”        25
“My beardless boys, my graybeard men,
Summoned to take the fatal pen
Which gave eternal rights to men,—
  All present, or accounted for.”
 
I saw her scan again the scroll,—        30
I heard her read again the roll;
I heard her name her soldier son,
Ward, called from home by Lexington.
He smiled and laid his baton down,
Proud to be next to Washington!        35
He called her list of boys and men
Who served her for her battles then.
From North to South, from East to West,
He named her bravest and her best,
From distant fort, from bivouac near:        40
“Brooks, Eustis, Cobb, and Thacher!” “Here.”
Name after name, with quick reply,
As twitched his lip and flashed his eye;
But then he choked and bowed his head,—
“Warren at Bunker Hill lies dead.”        45
 
The roll was closed; he only said,
“All present, or accounted for.”
 
That scroll is stained with time and dust;
They were not faithless to their trust.
 
“If those days come again,—if I        50
Call on the grandsons,—what reply?
What deed of courage new display
These fresher parchments of to-day?”
 
I saw her take the newest scroll,—
I heard her read the whiter roll;        55
And as the answers came, the while
Our mother nodded with a smile:
“Charles Adams!” “Here” “George Bancroft!” “Here.”
“The Hoars!” “Both here.” “Dick Dana!” “Here.”
“Wadsworth!” “He died at duty’s call.”        60
“Webster!” “He fell as brave men fall.”
“Everett!” “Struck down in Faneuil Hall.”
“Summer!” “A nation bears his pall.”
“Shaw, Abbott, Lowell, Savage!” “All
Died there,—to live on yonder wall!”        65
“Come East, come West, come far, come near,—
Lee, Bartlett, Davis, Devens!” “Here.”
“All present, or accounted for.”
 
Boys, heed the omen! Let the scroll
Fill as it may as years unroll;        70
But when again she calls her youth
To serve her in the ranks of Truth,
May she find all one heart, one soul,—
At home or on some distant shore,
  “All present, or accounted for!”        75
 

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