The Rendition

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

I heard the train's shrill whistle call,
I saw an earnest look beseech,
And rather by that look than speech
My neighbor told me all.
And, as I thought of Liberty
Marched handcuffed down that sworded street,
The solid earth beneath my feet
Reeled fluid as the sea.
I felt a sense of bitter loss,
Shame, tearless grief, and stifling wrath,
And loathing fear, as if my path
A serpent stretched across.
All love of home, all pride of place,
All generous confidence and trust,
Sank smothering in that deep disgust
And anguish of disgrace.
Down on my native hills of June,
And home's green quiet, hiding all,
Fell sudden darkness like the fall
Of midnight upon noon!
And Law, an unloosed maniac, strong,
Blood-drunken, through the blackness trod,
Hoarse-shouting in the ear of God
The blasphemy of wrong.
"O Mother, from thy memories proud,
Thy old renown, dear Commonwealth,
Lend this dead air a breeze of health,
And smite with stars this cloud.
"Mother of Freedom, wise and brave,
Rise awful in thy strength," I said;
Ah me! I spake but to the dead;
I stood upon her grave

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