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What gives the wheat-field blades of steel?

What points the rebel cannon ?
What sets the roaring rabble's heel
On the old star-spangled pennon ?

What breaks the oath
Of the men o' the South?
What whets the knife

For the Union's life?
Hark to the answer : Slavery !

Then waste no blows on lesser foes

In strife unworthy freemen.
God lifts to-day the veil, and shows
The features of the demon !

O North and South,
Its victims both,
Can ye not cry,

“Let slavery die !”
And union find in freedom ?

What though the cast-out spirit tear

The nation in his going?
We who have shared the guilt must share
The pang of his o’erthrowing !

Whate'er the loss,
Whate'er the cross,
Shall they complain

Of present pain
Who trust in God's hereafter ?

For who that leans on His right arm

Was ever yet forsaken?
What righteous cause can suffer harm
If He its part has taken?

Though wild and loud
And dark the cloud,
Behind its folds

His hand upholds
The calm sky of to-morrow!

Above the maddening cry for blood,

Above the wild war-drumming,
Let Freedom's voice be heard, with good
The evil overcoming.

Give prayer and purse
To stay the Curse
Whose wrong we share,

Whose shame we bear,
Whose end shall gladden Heaven !

In vain the bells of war shall ring

Of triumphs and revenges,
While still is spared the evil thing
That severs and estranges.

But blest the ear
That yet shall hear
The jubilant bell

That rings the knell
Of Slavery forever!

Then let the selfish lip be dumb,

And hushed the breath of sighing;
Before the joy of peace must come
The pains of purifying.

God give us grace
Each in his place
To bear his lot,

And, murmuring not,
Endure and wait and labor !




HEN first I saw our banner wave

Above the nation's council-hall,
I heard beneath its marble wall
The clanking fetters of the slave!

In the foul market-place I stood,

And saw the Christian mother sold,

And childhood with its locks of gold,
Blue-eyed and fair with Saxon blood.

I shut my eyes, I held my breath,

And, smothering down the wrath and shame

That set my Northern blood aflame,
Stood silent — where to speak was death.

Beside me gloomed the prison-cell

Where wasted one in slow decline

For uttering simple words of mine,
And loving freedom all too well.

The flag that floated fro the dome

Flapped menace in the morning air;

I stood a perilled stranger where
The human broker made his home.

For crime was virtue: Gown and Sword

And Law their threefold sanction gave,

And to the quarry of the slave
Went hawking with our symbol-bird.

On the oppressor's side was power ;

And yet I knew that every wrong,

However old, however strong, But waited God's avenging hour.

I knew that truth would crush the lie,

Somehow, sometime, the end would be;

Yet scarcely dared I hope to see The triumph with my mortal eye.

But now I see it! In the sun

A free flag floats from yonder dome,

And at the nation's hearth and home The justice long delayed is done.

Not as we hoped, in calm of prayer,

The message of deliverance comes,

But heralded by roll of drums On waves of battle-troubled air !

Midst sounds that madden and appall,

The song that Bethlehem's shepherds knew!

The harp of David melting through The demon-agonies of Saul !

Not as we hoped ; — but what are we?

Above our broken dreams and plans

God lays, with wiser hand than man's, The corner-stones of liberty.

I cavil not with Him : the voice

That freedom's blessed gospel tells

Is sweet to me as silver bells, Rejoicing !— yea, I will rejoice!

Dear friends still toiling in the sun,

Ye dearer ones who, gone before,

Are watching from the eternal shore The slow work by your hands begun,

Rejoice with me! The chastening rod

Blossoms with love; the furnace heat

Grows cool beneath His blessed feet Whose form is as the Son of God!

Rejoice! Our Marah's bitter springs

Are sweetened ; on our ground of grief

Rise day by day in strong relief The prophecies of better things.

Rejoice in hope! The day and night

Are one with God, and one with them

Who see by faith the cloudy hem
Of Judgment fringed with Mercy's light!



LL night above their rocky bed

They saw the stars march slow;
The wild Sierra overhead,

The desert's death below.

The Indian from his lodge of bark,

The gray bear from his den,
Beyond their camp-fire's wall of dark,

Glared on the mountain men.

Still upward turned, with anxious strain,

Their leader's sleepless eye,
Where splinters of the mountain chain

Stood black against the sky.

The night waned slow: at last, a glow,

A gleam of sudden fire,

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