To the Invincible Republic

A MERICA ! I have never breathed thy air,
Have never touched thy soil or heard the speed
And thunder of thy cities; yet would I
Salute thee from afar, not chiefly awed
By wide domain, mere breadth of governed dust,
Nor measuring thy greatness and thy power
Only by numbers: rather seeing thee
As mountainous heave of spirit, emotion huge,
Enormous hate and anger, boundless love,
And most unknown unfathomable depth
Of energy divine.
In peace to-day
Thou sit'st between thy oceans; but when Fate
Was at thy making, and endowed thy soul
With many gifts and costly, she forgot
To mix with these a genius for repose;
Wherefore a sting is ever in thy blood,
And in thy marrow a sublime unrest.
And thus thou keepest hot the forge of life,
Where man is still re-shapen and re-made
With fire and clangour.
And as thou art vast,
So are the perils vast that evermore
In thine own house are bred; nor least of these
That fair and fell Delilah, Luxury,
That shears the hero's strength away, and brings
Palsy on nations. Flee her loveliness,
For in the end her kisses are a sword.
Strong sons hast thou begotten, natures rich
In scorn of riches, greatly simple minds:
No land in all the world hath memories
Of nobler children; let it not be said
That if the peerless and the stainless one,
The man of Yorktown and of Valley Forge —
Or he of tragic doom, thy later born,
He of the short plain word that thrilled the world
And freed the bondman, — let it not be said
That if to-day these radiant ones returned,
They would behold thee changed beyond all thought
From that austerity wherein thy youth
Was nurtured, those large habitudes of soul.
But who are we, to counsel thee or warn,
In this old England whence thy fathers sailed?
Here, too, hath Mammon many thrones, and here
Are palaces of sloth and towers of pride.
Best to forget them! Round me is the wealth,
The untainted wealth of English fields, and all
The passion and sweet trouble of the Spring
Is in the air; and the remembrance comes
That not alone for stem and blade, for flower
And leaf, but for man also, there are times
Of mighty vernal movement, seasons when
Life casts away the body of this death,
And a great surge of youth breaks on the world.
Then are the primal fountains clamorously
Unsealed; and then, perchance, are dread things born,
Not unforetold by deep parturient pangs,
But the light minds that heed no auguries,
Untaught by all that heretofore hath been,
Taking their ease on the blind verge of fate,
See nothing, and hear nothing, till the hour
Of some vast advent that makes all things new.
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