What leads our people, children of this land

What leads our people, children of this land,
Born in New England, in New England bred,
To shun their native shores, and with sad eyes
Rehearse on Tiber's banks their homesick woe?
Here, where old races linger in the soil,
(The aspiring Indian elder to them all,
First in great Nature's heart), and where the scene
Is all a long and beautiful delay,
To round a finished life and steep the blood
In temperate pleasures, why should Egypt be
And her colossal mummies such a joy?
Or dusty Babylon where Arabs howl,
Or China's torpid teas, or English tombs.
May God forgive me! I had rather be,
The meanest worm that haunts our berry-fields,
Than wear the purple on those distant thrones,
And love far more the breath of Liberty
Across our poor, uncultured, sandy soils,
Than all the crumbling empires in their shrouds.
The wealth of Penury!—scant phrase indeed!—
Yet to be poor is over the true wealth!
Poor to the worldly eye, and those who swim
And glitter in their pride cannot aspire
To the deep blessing that the Poor man knows,
Lord of himself, and health, and simple tastes.
And all our youth rush out to feed on whims,
Fashion craves their hours, low hopes their aim.
To win not noble women for their brides,
But titled slaves heirs to some teasing caste,
And beauty without culture seems more show,—
As if great Nature laid not on her tints
With more contrivance than the brush of art,
Or schools where grammars bide the place of sense,
And shallow stammering drowns the native voice.
Here, in these shades, these deep seclusions hid
Beneath the whisp'ring leaves and o'er our moors
A ragged independence lives at ease,
Wearing those good adornments of the race,
Such as pure air, warm suns, and builds the Hero
Urban pens describe. Such have I seen,
Men to whom palaces might bow in vain,
Inferior to themselves; whose hearts and hands
Conjoined with Nature love the earth they smite,
And while they tease the globe for rye and corn,
Give still an hour to junketing and sport.
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