Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Alma Mater
By Ajan Syrian
 
From “I Sing of My Life While I Live It”

The Immigrant at Columbia

  GAJOR, richest of the Syrians, is my friend.
He sends me to the vast school,
Where the great square-winged houses circle
And call the young men in.
“Come! Come, beyond our pillars and our fountains!        5
Come from the restless, spending city,
Passionate and cold.
Her blistered mouth would drink you dry
Ere your eager hopes had found a soil and a sun
To draw them to a high bursting fragrance and a white, white bloom,        10
Roofing the world!
Come behind my gray-brown walls—
Even, strong, sober walls without towers.
Like a warm, still wine in the cup of youth,
Lift up your young blood here        15
To the lips of learning!”
 
  O Alma Mater:
From the red, red dust, the long dead dust
Of ancient Syria, I come
To lie between thy feet of lasting bronze        20
And look up—and look up!
To see thy laureled head—
Massive, calm, with gloried brow—
Flame before the open portals of the House of Books;
Where the thoughts of noble men—        25
Dressed in all habits, speaking all tongues,
Gathered from all ages of time—
Meet like pilgrims at one shrine,
For the worship of service to thy sons.
O mother, thy brow shines loftily        30
Above the endless sullen roar of heavy whips
In the unmastered market of slaves!
What light is on thy face, brighter than the dawn?
It is the wide-flung beauty of her Torch—the Other Woman,
Who stands upon the sea as thou upon the land,        35
And lifts her light,
Beckoning the sons of weeping centuries
Out of their long dead dust, across the ten great seas,
Into this harbor!
 
  Ay, into this harbor have I come,        40
Where white sails of the world, like strings of a pearled lute,
Chant Liberty—and Liberty—and Liberty,
In the crashing wind of her lifted arm!
(Oh, chords from the smitten silver of light!)—
Mother, thy breast is bared and beating high to catch that song!        45
 
 
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