Maurice Thompson

America

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Low-hung in darkness, steeped in tyranny,
The earth was but a prison-pen for man,
When a swift impulse leaped from sea to sea,
And round the sodden zones a flash of fervor ran.


A throb of God's great heart with sympathy
Shook all the world. The torn sky and the stars
Draped the majestic form of Liberty,
The while around the West she built her golden bars.


There was a sound of thunder rolling far,
When Freedom's forest-altar was begun,
A song of star that answered unto star,
When Freedom's heaven-high temple in the West was done!


Done? Oh, never done! the builder buildeth fair,
Stone upon stone, that all the world may know;
Higher and higher, in purer veins of air,
The parapets of love, the towers of beauty grow.


The slave whose ear feels yet the post and nail,
The serf in some Siberian hell, the oppressed
Of rack-rent, and the debtor in the jail,
All pray with hopeful faces yearning to the West.


Reality of life's divine romance
Befalls what time the broken chains crash down;
And lo! full manhood, leaping from a trance
Shakes off the chrysalis shell of trodden clod and clown.


Oh, brothers, come! The breath of heaven is here!
One draught can make the slave and master one!
The grace of liberty softens year by year,
And in a richer flood the stream of life flows on.


But come not here to batter and debase,
Nor hoping to reach license unconfined;
No alien hand our inscriptions may efface,
Justice may be, but vigilant Freedom is not, blind!


Come rather as the bridegroom to the bride,
Or as a man made free to freeborn man,
Love-blown across the ocean wild and wide,
Upon our shores, to be a true American!


And join our song, oh, every alien tongue,
Make thunder-music on our highest wall,
While hearts of kings are faint and terror-wrung,
And all the olden thrones are toppling to their fall!


America, new gospel bearer, hail!
Thou second coming of the loving Lord!
Thy thousand years of glory cannot fail,
Thou dewy, bloom-sweet resurrection of God's word!


Thy destiny the Father's fingers wove,
The spell of power is on thee. Sweet and strong
Flames in thine eyes the fire of heavenly love,
And from thy brimming heart leaps love's immortal song!

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Maurice Thompson