Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
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George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
 
Our Birthright
By George Shepard Burleigh (1821–1903)
 
    AS children of the Infinite Soul
    Our Birthright is the boundless whole,
Won truth by truth while endless ages roll.
 
    Swift Fancy’s wing would flag in flight
    To reach the depth, the breadth, and height        5
Of the vast wealth that waits our growing sight:
 
    High truths which have not yet been dreamed,
    Realities of all that seemed
Best in the best of what we hoped and deemed:
 
    Such freedom under natural law        10
    As not the fabled Eden saw,
So large and calm, and full of blissful awe:
 
    And love that cannot fail to flow,
    Warm as the sun and white as snow,
Through flesh and soul that sweet as lilies grow:        15
 
    With knowledge that on sea and land
    And air shall lay familiar hand,
And weigh the star-dust on creation’s strand;
 
    And wisdom ever more divine,
    Of clustered knowledge the red wine,        20
Which holds the world dissolved and crystalline.
 
    Peace over all in skyey calm
    Shall weave her olive with the palm
Of victory, and steep the earth in balm.
 
    A thousand years the soul shall climb        25
    To guess what more of wealth sublime
Waits for a conqueror in the depths of time.
 
    The fiends who guard it, hunger-gnawed,
    Are Doubt and Fear and ancient Fraud,
And grey old Use by whom the world is awed.        30
 
    But heralds of the better day
    Beckon us on, and point the way,
Where earnest seeking never goes astray.
 
    No peril daunts the Brave; he speeds
    Across the wreck of older creeds,        35
And crownless gods cast down among the weeds.
 
    Doubt dies beneath his lifted spear,
    Fraud slinks away with breathless Fear,
And grey old Use shrieks in his heedless ear.
 
    Wide gape these parasites aghast        40
    As in the temples of the Past
He sets the ark of living Godhood fast;
 
    And hollow gods, to whom they pledge
    Libations on their altar-ledge,
Fall shattered down to bite the grunsel’s edge.        45
 
    Well may ye deem that pain and loss
    Will haunt his walks, and murder toss
On him the boding shadow of her cross.
 
    But loss and pain will wear away
    The thick opacity of clay,        50
And the cross lift him to the zone of day!
 
    Far-seeking his imperial goal,
    No fate can rob the earnest soul
Of his great birthright in the boundless whole!
 
 
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