Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
An Intended Inscription for the Monument on Beacon-Hill, in Boston
By James Allen (1739–1808)
 
WHERE stretch’d your sail, beneath what foreign sky
Did lovelier landscape ever charm your eye?
Could fancy’s fairy pencil, stranger! say,
E’en dipt in dreams, a nobler scene pourtray?
 
  Behold yon vales, whose skirts elude your view,        5
And mountains fading to aerial blue!
Along their bowery shades how healthy toil
Alternate sports, or tends the mellow soil.
See rural towns ’mid groves and gardens rise,
And eastward,—where the stretching ocean lies,        10
Lo! our fair capital sublimes the scene,
New Albion’s pride, and ocean’s future queen;
How o’er the tradeful port august she smiles,—
Her sea-like haven boasts an hundred isles,
When hardy commerce swell the lofty sails        15
O’er arctic seas, and mocks the polar gales;
Thence tides of wealth the wafting breezes bring,
And hence e’en culture feels its vital spring.
 
  These scenes our sires from rugged nature wrought,
Since—what dire wars their patriot race have fought!        20
Witness yon tract, where first the Briton bled,
Driven by our youth redoubted Percy fled:
There Breed ascends, and Bunker’s bleeding steeps,
Still o’er whose brow abortive victory weeps;
What trophies since! the gaze of after times,        25
Rear’d freedom’s empire o’er our happy climes!
 
  But hence, fond stranger, take a nobler view,
See yon shorn elm, 1 whence all these glories grew.
Here, where the armed foe presumptuous trod,
Trampled our shrines, and even mouth’d our God,        30
His vengeful hand, deep as the parent root,
Lopt each grown branch, and every suckling shoot;
Because beneath her consecrated shade
Our earliest vows to liberty were paid.
High from her altar blew the heaven-caught fire,        35
While all our wealth o’erhung the kindling pyre.
How at the deed the nations stood aghast,
As on the pile our plighted lives we cast!
 
  O! if an alien from our fair domains,
The blood of Britain, hapless, taint your veins,        40
Pace o’er that hallow’d ground with awful tread,
And tears, atoning, o’er yon relic shed;
But if, American! your lineage springs,
From sires, who scorn the pedigree of kings,
A Georgian born, you breathe the tepid air,        45
Or on the breezy banks of Delaware,
Or hardy Hampshire claim your haughty birth,
Revere yon root, and kiss its nurturing earth:
O be its fibres fed by flowing springs,
Whence rose our empire o’er the thrones of kings:        50
E’en now descend, adore the dear remain,
Where first rear’d liberty’s illumin’d fane.
There all her race, while time revolves, shall come,
As pilgrims flock to Mecca’s idol’d tomb.
 
Note 1. The stump of liberty tree. [back]
 
 
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