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.
 
February 15
The Fifteenth of February
By Charles Edward Russell (1860–1941)
 
1898–1899

IS it not well, my brethren? They whose sleep
            Beneath the nodding palm,
Where the strong currents of the trade wind sweep,
            Is measureless and calm,
If from those loyal lips, now one year dumb,        5
One word across the heaving seas might come,
            What other word
Than this should hail the morning? Might they know
That where the tides past grim Cabanas flow
The mirrored glories of their banner glow,        10
            What other cheer be heard?
 
Is it not well—the surer, stronger sight
            And for that pain and shame
The sense of all things slowly set aright
            Unto a destined aim?        15
That gazing where beyond our utmost dreams
The way new broken through the darkness gleams,
            Fresh wreaths we bring,
And heeding all that these with life have bought,
What wondrous things the circling months have wrought,        20
For these held dear in all a nation’s thought
            “Pro patria mori” sing.
 
Is it not well? Pro patria mori! Yea,
            For her dear sake no less
Than those that on some hard-fought glorious day        25
            Fall in the strife and stress.
Though not as Anglo-Saxons love to go,
Stern-set, hard-gripped, with answering blow for blow—
            Not thus they died—
Yet not without such sacrifice might be        30
Full wrought the perfect work of Liberty,
Nor we the children of her first-born see
            Her sun-lit wings spread wide.
 
Is it not well? Lo, where the shade was cast
            Of out-worn kingly sway        35
To gloom the Future with a blighted Past,
            That curse is swept away;
And now above the fading dark arise
New constellations in the glittering skies;
            And in our ears,        40
That heard but now the universal groan,
The prison shot and tortured prisoner’s moan,
The chorus of a people freed is blown
            From the verge of coming years.
 
Is it not well that far beyond, below,        45
            The market’s empty strife
We have made sure what tides of feeling flow
            To make the people’s life?
How deeply shrined the sacred flag has place
In all the toiling million-hearted race,        50
            And at her need
The youthful giant of the nation wakes,
Within his hand a disused weapon takes
Lays down for her his ready life, or shakes
            The world with deathless deed.        55
 
Is it not well—the hope, as if new born,
            The first of glimmering light,
The slender herald of the promised morn
            Athwart the ancient night?
That comes with healing for her wounded breast        60
Of that old East that is the radiant West
            Of times to be;
While in her prostrate place as loaded long
With chains of might and blinded hate and wrong,
She trembles at the first heard morning song        65
            From across the morning sea?
 
Is it not well, my brethren? There is made
            One song through all the land;
Before one light old doubts and shadows fade,
            With old lines drawn in sand.        70
The past lies dead. New sight, a broader view,
For the Republic sees a purpose new
            Of boundless scope.
While like a sun that burns with clearer flame
Sweeps rising through the sky her spotless fame,        75
And lights a land that knows one love, one aim,
            One flag, one faith, one hope.
 
 
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