The Eve Of Election





FROM gold to gray

Our mild sweet day

Of Indian Summer fades too soon;

But tenderly

Above the sea

Hangs, white and calm, the hunter's moon.



In its pale fire,

The village spire

Shows like the zodiac's spectral lance;

The painted walls

Whereon it falls

Transfigured stand in marble trance!



O'er fallen leaves

The west-wind grieves,

Yet comes a seed-time round again;

And morn shall see

The State sown free

With baleful tares or healthful grain.



Along the street

The shadows meet

Of Destiny, whose hands conceal

The moulds of fate

That shape the State,

And make or mar the common weal.



Around I see

The powers that be;

I stand by Empire's primal springs;

And princes meet,

In every street,

And hear the tread of uncrowned kings!



Hark! through the crowd

The laugh runs loud,

Beneath the sad, rebuking moon.

God save the land

A careless hand

May shake or swerve ere morrow's noon!



No jest is this;

One cast amiss

May blast the hope of Freedom's year.

Oh, take me where

Are hearts of prayer,

And foreheads bowed in reverent fear!



Not lightly fall

Beyond recall

The written scrolls a breath can float;

The crowning fact

The kingliest act

Of Freedom is the freeman's vote!



For pearls that gem

A diadem

The diver in the deep sea dies;

The regal right

We boast to-night

Is ours through costlier sacrifice;



The blood of Vane,

His prison pain

Who traced the path the Pilgrim trod,

And hers whose faith

Drew strength from death,

And prayed her Russell up to God!



Our hearts grow cold,

We lightly hold

A right which brave men died to gain;

The stake, the cord,

The axe, the sword,

Grim nurses at its birth of pain.



The shadow rend,

And o'er us bend,

O martyrs, with your crowns and palms;

Breathe through these throngs

Your battle songs,

Your scaffold prayers, and dungeon psalms.



Look from the sky,

Like God's great eye,

Thou solemn moon, with searching beam,

Till in the sight

Of thy pure light

Our mean self-seekings meaner seem.



Shame from our hearts

Unworthy arts,

The fraud designed, the purpose dark;

And smite away

The hands we lay

Profanely on the sacred ark.



To party claims

And private aims,

Reveal that august face of Truth,

Whereto are given

The age of heaven,

The beauty of immortal youth.



So shall our voice

Of sovereign choice

Swell the deep bass of duty done,

And strike the key

Of time to be,

When God and man shall speak as one!

1858.





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