The Crisis





Written on learning the terms of the treaty with Mexico.



ACROSS the Stony Mountains, o'er the desert's

drouth and sand,

The circles of our empire touch the western ocean's

strand;

From slumberous Timpanogos, to Gila, wild and

free,

Flowing down from Nuevo-Leon to California's sea;

And from the mountains of the east, to Santa

Rosa's shore,

The eagles of Mexitli shall beat the air no more.



O Vale of Rio Bravo! Let thy simple children

weep;

Close watch about their holy fire let maids of

Pecos keep;

Let Taos send her cry across Sierra Madre's pines,

And Santa Barbara toll her bells amidst her corn

and vines;

For lo! the pale land-seekers come, with eager eyes

of gain,

Wide scattering, like the bison herds on broad

Salada's plain.



Let Sacramento's herdsmen heed what sound the

winds bring down

Of footsteps on the crisping snow, from cold

Nevada's crown!

Full hot and fast the Saxon rides, with rein of

travel slack,

And, bending o'er his saddle, leaves the sunrise at

his back;

By many a lonely river, and gorge of fir and

pine,

On many a wintry hill-top, his nightly camp-fires

shine.



O countrymen and brothers! that land of lake and

plain,

Of salt wastes alternating with valleys fat with

grain;

Of mountains white with winter, looking downward,

cold, serene,

On their feet with spring-vines tangled and lapped

in softest green;

Swift through whose black volcanic gates, o'er

many a sunny vale,

Wind-like the Arapahoe sweeps the bison's dusty

trail!



Great spaces yet untravelled, great lakes whose

mystic shores

The Saxon rifle never heard, nor dip of Saxon oars;

Great herds that wander all unwatched, wild steeds

that none have tamed,

Strange fish in unknown streams, and birds the

Saxon never named;

Deep mines, dark mountain crucibles, where Nature's

chemic powers

Work out the Great Designer's will; all these ye

say are ours!



Forever ours! for good or ill, on us the burden

lies;

God's balance, watched by angels, is hung across

the skies.

Shall Justice, Truth, and Freedom turn the poised

and trembling scale?

Or shall the Evil triumph, and robber Wrong prevail?

Shall the broad land o'er which our flag in starry

splendor waves,

Forego through us its freedom, and bear the tread

of slaves?



The day is breaking in the East of which the

prophets told,

And brightens up the sky of Time the Christian

Age of Gold;

Old Might to Right is yielding, battle blade to

clerkly pen,

Earth's monarchs are her peoples, and her serfs

stand up as men;



The isles rejoice together, in a day are nations

born,

And the slave walks free in Tunis, and by Stamboul's

Golden Horn!



Is this, O countrymen of mine! a day for us to sow

The soil of new-gained empire with slavery's seeds

of woe?

To feed with our fresh life-blood the Old World's

cast-off crime,

Dropped, like some monstrous early birth, from

the tired lap of Time?

To run anew the evil race the old lost nations ran,

And die like them of unbelief of God, and wrong

of man?



Great Heaven! Is this our mission? End in this

the prayers and tears,

The toil, the strife, the watchings of our younger,

better years?

Still as the Old World rolls in light, shall ours in

shadow turn,

A beamless Chaos, cursed of God, through outer

darkness borne?

Where the far nations looked for light, a black-

ness in the air?

Where for words of hope they listened, the long

wail of despair?



The Crisis presses on us; face to face with us it

stands,

With solemn lips of question, like the Sphinx in

Egypt's sands!

This day we fashion Destiny, our web of Fate we

spin;

This day for all hereafter choose we holiness or

sin;

Even now from starry Gerizim, or Ebal's cloudy

crown,

We call the dews of blessing or the bolts of cursing

down!



By all for which the martyrs bore their agony and

shame;

By all the warning words of truth with which the

prophets came;

By the Future which awaits us; by all the hopes

which cast

Their faint and trembling beams across the black-

ness of the Past;

And by the blessed thought of Him who for Earth's

freedom died,

O my people! O my brothers! let us choose the

righteous side.



So shall the Northern pioneer go joyful on his

way;

To wed Penobseot's waters to San Francisco's bay;

To make the rugged places smooth, and sow the

vales with grain;

And bear, with Liberty and Law, the Bible in his

train

The mighty West shall bless the East, and sea shall

answer sea,

And mountain unto mountain call, Praise God, for

we are free

1845.





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