Maurice Thompson

Before Sunrise

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Mid foliage green and gold,
And bloom-sprays manifold,
I feel
The fragrance of eternal freshness steal
Forth from the rising day,
And far away,
Like the murmuring of a stream,
Or a lute-chord in a dream,
On the horizon stirs
The rich and rapturous anthem of the Future's choristers.
How it flows
And grows!
On its notes
What triumph floats!
Before it earth is gladdened and the sea is like a rose.


The dawn
Is coming on--
Sweeter,
Fleeter,
In rhythms and rhymes and ripples flow the rays.
The high,
Blue, boundless, splendid sky
Flares like a rimpled blaze
Of sympathy divine.
A rare
Bouquet upon the air,
As if of mellow wine
Out of old flagons bursting,
Sets the whole world wildly thirsting.
The ships leap
On the fragrant breezy deep,
And the broad fields are billowy with grains.
The great mills roar;
Earth's veins of wealth outpour,
And tireless engines pierce the hills and crash across the plains.


Hurled
Around the world,
The lightning-bolts of man's best words to man
Burn chains in two,
Turn old things new;
And, flung back from the trumpets in the van
To the dull, listless ear
Of the straggler in the rear,
Come precious notes blown on the dewy rim
Of the morning cool and dim.


Hist!
Ere the strain is whist,
A voice, out of the dawn's vague, rosy mist:
Pure as God's highest fire
The worker's golden hire;
And the home he makes with it,
And the peace he takes with it
To wife and children, are reward as fair
As soul can compass or as love can bear.


O brothers all! come near
And hear
A bird's
Melodious dreaming set to words,
And flung
The spring's new leaves and tender buds among,
For very joy of life, and hope, and love,
In a world made broad enough
For all God's creatures to be merry in,
With joyous clash and din,
And yet too small
For any greed at all!
Lo! deep and sure
Is cut this truth in heaven's book of gold:
Out of one mother in the garden old
Were born the rich and poor.


O ditcher in the mire!
O stoker by the fire,
And driver on the engine flying far,
And brakeman on the car!
O moulder, strong and grim!
O longshoreman, and open-hearted tar,
And pilot, tough and true!
O miner in the coal-shaft damp and dim!
O factory girl with eyes serenely blue,
And cheerful matron washing clothes for hire!
O all who work and suffer and aspire!
Give ear!
Look up, and hear
And make thine own
This song, out of the future blown
So keen and clear:--
O pure of heart and faithful, hand in hand,
The strong, the weak, the great and small shall stand
Upright and free in Freedom's favored land,
And know
That howso blow
The winds of chance and change,
Onward and upward every step shall go,
And farther and freer every soul shall range!


How good
This universal bond of brotherhood,
And all this wide,
Strong, equal-flowing tide
Of human love and human charity
Foaming and heat-flushed as the rosy flood of some deep tropic sea!


No?
Not so?--
As I swing
And sing,
I hear a myriad voices answer mine,
From the oak woods and the pine,
From the seas and from the lakes,
From the brakes,
From the cities and the shops,
From the mines and the mountain-tops,
From field and fold,
Out of hot Southern marsh and Northern prairie cold,
All murmuring: "We are poor;
How long shall we endure
This burden that we bear
And the iron chains we wear?
What is freedom but a name?
What lot have we but poverty,--but shame?
Are we not slaves and worse?
Life is to us a bitter, burning curse!"


O brothers, though you grope
For the lowest rung of hope;
O sisters, though you weep
In darkness doubly deep,
And cry
From out foul pits of deepest misery,
Or lie
Dying in poverty,
Yet see on lofty places
Broad splendors and grand dreams
Flashing from fervent eyes and godlike faces,
Whereon the favor of Heaven divinely beams,
Envy not,
Nor curse your lot;
For lo! the best of all
God's gifts on you shall fall,
And your hearts shall overbrim
With ecstatic praise to Him!


Yea,
Deny it as you may,
The dawn
Is coming on,
And the heights must feel the glow
Before the valleys low;
But the great midday
Will strike
The peaks and vales alike
And they
Who in life's hollows stay
Shall feel the heat divine,
When the strong noon sun shall shine
At the zenith clear and high
Of a just and liberal sky!
In some manger cold,
In some hovel mean and lone
That the beasts would scorn to hold,
Laughs the babe that shall be king,
Whilst on a blazing throne
Sits an abject, hopeless thing
Silent and shivering!


O poor!
God's promises are sure;
High
As the starry sky
Is your children's destiny;
And broad
And giant-waved and tempest-bearing, like the sea,
Is the flood
That shall come roaring, leaping,
Over earth and sweeping
The horses, chariots, hosts and homes, banners and citadel
Of earth's tyrants into hell!


O king! O lord! O usurer!
O rich man's heart that no heart's cry can stir!
What gold may bar the path
Of the storm-flood and the whirlwind of God's wrath?
What ships with iron mail,
What steel-girt fortress, what hired army strong,
Intrenched in wrong,
With bristling guns and bayonets shall avail
Against the crushing missiles of God's vengeance sent
Out of the raging, rent, and foaming firmament?


It is sweet, sweet, sweet,
(I hear a million voices in unison repeat)
This vengeance that is coming on the world,
When the lofty shall lie low
And the blood of kings shall flow
In rivers round the thrones in fragments hurled;
When the rich shall writhe and groan,
Starving in deserts lone,
When the palaces shall fall
On the lords and ladies all,
And pestilence shall stalk
Where the money-lenders walk,
And all the heavenly blue shall be a bloody pall.


Peace!
Cease!
Such thoughts as these
Send all their harshness hissing through my song
And do my voice irreparable wrong.


Blown clear,
As glass through fire,
Let breath of love grow sweeter year by year;
Blown farther, higher,
The bugle-call of Hope still guide us on,
Until at last
The night is past,
And, rushing to the zenith from the dawn,
We see the sun pour light of life on all,
And hear a voice out of near heaven fall,
Saying to those who in the caves and lonely hollows dwell:
"Come forth, I am thy God, and all is well!"


Ah, well! All well!
In greening grove and dell
Hear how my song of love goes ringing on!
I am the prophet true,
My words are fresh as dew,
And lo! I say that it is morning time!
No more the darkness and the hideous rime
Of tyranny
Shall compass land and sea;
But, flaming o'er the world,
God's glorious flag of peace shall be unfurled,
And God's sweet law of liberty shall make all nations free!

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Maurice Thompson