Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
October 16
John Brown
By Eugene Fitch Ware (“Ironquill”) (1841–1911)
 
          John Brown, an anti-slavery agitator, seized Harper’s Ferry, Oct. 16, 1859, in an attempt to free the slaves. He was arrested, tried, and hanged December 2nd of the same year.

  STATES are not great
    Except as men may make them;
Men are not great except they do and dare.
  But States, like men,
  Have destinies that take them—        5
That bear them on, not knowing why or where.
 
    The WHY repels
  The philosophic searcher—
The WHY and WHERE all questionings defy,
    Until we find,        10
  Far back in youthful nurture,
Prophetic facts that constitute the WHY.
 
    All merit comes
  From braving the unequal;
All glory comes from daring to begin.        15
    Fame loves the State
  That, reckless of the sequel,
Fights long and well, whether it lose or win.
 
    Than in our State
  No illustration apter        20
Is seen or found of faith and hope and will.
    Take up her story:
  Every leaf and chapter
Contains a record that conveys a thrill.
 
    And there is one        25
  Whose faith, whose fight, whose failing,
Fame shall placard upon the walls of time.
    He dared begin—
  Despite the unavailing,
He dared begin, when failure was a crime.        30
 
    When over Africa
  Some future cycle
Shall sweep the lake-gemmed uplands with its surge;
    When, as with trumpet,
  Of Archangel Michael,        35
Culture shall bid a colored race emerge;
 
    When busy cities
  There in constellations,
Shall gleam with spires and palaces and domes,
    With marts wherein        40
  Is heard the noise of nations;
With summer groves surrounding stately homes—
 
    There, future orators
  To cultured freemen
Shall tell of valor, and recount with praise        45
    Stories of Kansas,
  And of Lacedaemon—
Cradles of freedom, then of ancient days.
 
    From boulevards
    O’erlooking both Nyanzas,        50
The statured bronze shall glitter in the sun,
    With rugged lettering:
“JOHN BROWN OF KANSAS:
HE DARED BEGIN;
HE LOST,
        55
BUT, LOSING, WON.”
 
 
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