Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Massachusetts Poets
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Massachusetts Poets.  1922.
 
1620–1920
 
Le Baron Russell Briggs (1855–1934)
 
Face to the Indian arrows. Daughter of Truth and mother of Courage, Yet even as we in our pride rejoice, Land of our fathers, when the tempest rages, And when we sail as Pilgrims’ sons and daughters
 
BEFORE him rolls the dark, relentless ocean;
Behind him stretch the cold and barren sands;
Wrapt in the mantle of his deep devotion
The Pilgrim kneels, and clasps his lifted hands;
 
“God of our fathers, who hast safely brought us        5
Through seas and sorrows, famine, fire, and sword;
Who, in Thy mercies manifold hast taught us
To trust in Thee, our leader and our Lord;
 
“God, who hast send Thy truth to shine before us,
A fiery pillar, beaconing on the sea;        10
God, who hast spread thy wings of mercy o’er us;
God, who hast set our children’s children free,
 
“Freedom Thy new-born nation here shall cherish;
Grant us Thy covenant, changing, sure:
Earth shall decay; the firmament shall perish;        15
Freedom and Truth, immortal shall endure.”
 
 
Face to the Prussian guns,
From then till now the Pilgrim’s vow
Has held the Pilgrim’s sons.        20
 
He braved the red man’s ambush,
He loosed the black man’s chain;
His spirit broke King George’s yoke
And the battleships of Spain.
 
He crossed the seething ocean;        25
He dared the death-strewn track;
He charged in the hell of Saint Mihiel
And hurled the tyrant back.
 
For the voice of the lonely Pilgrim
Who knelt upon the strand        30
A people hears three hundred years
In the conscience of the land.
 
 
Conscience, all hail!
Heart of New England, strength of the Pilgrims,        35
Thou shalt prevail.
Look how the empires rise and fall!
Athens robed in her learning and beauty,
Rome in her royal lust for power—
Each has flourished for her little hour,        40
Risen and fallen and ceased to be.
What of her by the Western Sea,
Born and bred as the child of Duty,
Sternest of them all?
She it is and she alone        45
Who built on faith as her corner stone;
Of all the nations none but she
Knew that the truth shall make us free.
Daughter of Courage, mother of heroes,
Freedom divine.        50
Light of New England, Star of the Pilgrim,
Still shalt thou shine.
 
 
Hark to the prophet’s warning voice:
“The Pilgrim’s thrift is vanished        55
And the Pilgrim’s faith is dead,
And the Pilgrim’s God is banished,
And Mammon reigns in his stead;
And work is damned as an evil,
And men and women cry,        60
In their restless haste, ‘Let us spend and waste,
And live; for to-morrow we die.’
 
“And law is trampled under;
And the nations stand aghast,
As they hear the distant thunder        65
Of the storm that marches fast;
And we,—whose ocean borders
Shut off the sound and the sight,
We will wait for marching orders;
The world has seen us fight;        70
We have earned our days of revel;
‘On with the dance’! we cry.
It is pain to think; we will eat and drink!
And live; for to-morrow we die.”
 
“‘We have laughed in the eyes of danger;        75
We have given our bravest and best;
We have succored the starving stranger;
Others shall heed the rest.’
And the revel never ceases;
And the nations hold their breath;        80
And our laughter peals, and the mad world reels,
To a carnival of death.
 
“Slaves of sloth and the senses,
Clippers of Freedom’s wings,
Come back to the Pilgrim’s Army        85
And fight for the King of Kings;
Come back to the Pilgrim’s conscience;
Be born in the nation’s birth;
And strive again as simple men
For the freedom of the earth.        90
Freedom a free-born nation still shall cherish,
Be this our covenant, unchanging, sure:
Earth shall decay; the firmament shall perish;
Freedom and Truth immortal shall endure.”
 
 
        95
When the wide earth is racked with war and crime,
Founded forever on the Rock of Ages,
Beaten in vain by surging seas of time,
 
Even as the shallop on the breakers riding,
Even as the Pilgrim kneeling on the shore,        100
Firm in thy faith and fortitude abiding,
Hold thou thy children free forever more.
 
 
The spirit’s Mayflower into seas unknown,
Driving across the waste of wintry waters        105
The voyage every soul shall make alone,
 
The Pilgrim’s faith, the Pilgrim’s courage grant us;
Still shines the truth that for the Pilgrim shone.
We are his seed; nor life nor death shall daunt us.
The port is Freedom! Pilgrim heart, sail on!        110
 

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