Anniversary Poem

Read before the Alumni of the Friends' Yearly Meeting School, at the

Annual Meeting at Newport, R. I., 15th 6th mo., 1863.

ONCE more, dear friends, you meet beneath

A clouded sky

Not yet the sword has found its sheath,

And on the sweet spring airs the breath

Of war floats by.

Yet trouble springs not from the ground,

Nor pain from chance;

The Eternal order circles round,

And wave and storm find mete and bound

In Providence.

Full long our feet the flowery ways

Of peace have trod,

Content with creed and garb and phrase:

A harder path in earlier days

Led up to God.

Too cheaply truths, once purchased dear,

Are made our own;

Too long the world has smiled to hear

Our boast of full corn in the ear

By others sown;

To see us stir the martyr fires

Of long ago,

And wrap our satisfied desires

In the singed mantles that our sires

Have dropped below.

But now the cross our worthies bore

On us is laid;

Profession's quiet sleep is o'er,

And in the scale of truth once more

Our faith is weighed.

The cry of innocent blood at last

Is calling down

An answer in the whirlwind-blast,

The thunder and the shadow cast

From Heaven's dark frown.

The land is red with judgments. Who

Stands guiltless forth?

Have we been faithful as we knew,

To God and to our brother true,

To Heaven and Earth.

How faint, through din of merchandise

And count of gain,

Have seemed to us the captive's cries!

How far away the tears and sighs

Of souls in pain!

This day the fearful reckoning comes

To each and all;

We hear amidst our peaceful homes

The summons of the conscript drums,

The bugle's call.

Our path is plain; the war-net draws

Round us in vain,

While, faithful to the Higher Cause,

We keep our fealty to the laws

Through patient pain.

The levelled gun, the battle-brand,

We may not take

But, calmly loyal, we can stand

And suffer with our suffering land

For conscience' sake.

Why ask for ease where all is pain?

Shall we alone

Be left to add our gain to gain,

When over Armageddon's plain

The trump is blown?

To suffer well is well to serve;

Safe in our Lord

The rigid lines of law shall curve

To spare us; from our heads shall swerve

Its smiting sword.

And light is mingled with the gloom,

And joy with grief;

Divinest compensations come,

Through thorns of judgment mercies bloom

In sweet relief.

Thanks for our privilege to bless,

By word and deed,

The widow in her keen distress,

The childless and the fatherless,

The hearts that bleed!

For fields of duty, opening wide,

Where all our powers

Are tasked the eager steps to guide

Of millions on a path untried

The slave is ours!

Ours by traditions dear and old,

Which make the race

Our wards to cherish and uphold,

And cast their freedom in the mould

Of Christian grace.

And we may tread the sick-bed floors

Where strong men pine,

And, down the groaning corridors,

Pour freely from our liberal stores

The oil and wine.

Who murmurs that in these dark days

His lot is cast?

God's hand within the shadow lays

The stones whereon His gates of praise

Shall rise at last.

Turn and o'erturn, O outstretched Hand

Nor stint, nor stay;

The years have never dropped their sand

On mortal issue vast and grand

As ours to-day.

Already, on the sable ground

Of man's despair

Is Freedom's glorious picture found,

With all its dusky hands unbound

Upraised in prayer.

Oh, small shall seem all sacrifice

And pain and loss,

When God shall wipe the weeping eyes,

For suffering give the victor's prize,

The crown for cross.

And What Shall You Say? Archdeacon Barbour facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail