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Washington by Eliza Cook

Washington

Land of the West! though passing brief the record of thine age,
Thou hast a name that darkens all on history’s wide page!
Let all the blasts of Fame ring out,—thine shall be loudest far;
Let others boast their satellites,—thou hast the planet star.
Thou hast a name whose characters of light shall ne’er depart;
‘Tis stamped upon the dullest brain, and warms the coldest heart;
A war-cry fit for any land where Freedom’s to be won:
Land of the West! it stands alone—it is thy Washington!

Rome had its Cæsar, great and brave; but stain was on his wreath:
He lived the heartless conqueror, and died the tyrant’s death.
France had its Eagle, but his wings, though lofty they might soar,
Were spread in false ambition’s flight, and dipped in murder’s gore.
Those hero-gods, whose mighty sway would fain have chained the waves-
Who flashed their blades with tiger zeal to make a world of slaves—
Who, though their kindred barred the path, still fiercely waded on.
Oh, where shall be their “glory” by the side of Washington!

He fought, but not with love of strife; he struck but to defend;
And ere he turned a people’s foe, he sought to be a friend:
He strove to keep his country’s right by Reason’s gentle word,
And sighed when fell Injustice threw the challenge—sword to sword.
He stood the firm, the calm, the wise, the patriot and sage;
He showed no deep, avenging hate, no burst of despot rage;
He stood for Liberty and Truth, and daringly led on,
Till shouts of Victory gave forth the name of Washington.

No car of triumph bore him through a city filled with grief;
No groaning captives at the wheels proclaimed him victor-chief:
He broke the gyves of slavery with strong and high disdain;
But cast no sceptre from the links when he had rent the chain.
He saved his land, but did not lay his soldier trappings down,
To change them for a regal vest, and don a kingly crown.
Fame was too earnest in her joy—too proud of such a son—
To let a robe and title mask her noble Washington.

England, my heart is truly thine—my loved, my native earth,—
The land that holds a mother’s grave and gave that mother birth!
Oh, keenly sad would be the fate that thrust me from thy shore,
And faltering my breath that sighed “Farewell for evermore!”
But did I meet such adverse lot, I would not seek to dwell
Where olden heroes wrought the deeds for Homer’s song to tell.
“Away, thou gallant ship!” I’d cry, “and bear me safely on;
But bear me from my own, fair land to that of Washington.”

Eliza Cook
(1818-1889)
Washington

fleursdumal.nl magazine

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