A Voice Of The Loyal North

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

JANUARY THIRD

We sing "Our Country's" song to-night
With saddened voice and eye;
Her banner droops in clouded light
Beneath the wintry sky.
We'll pledge her once in golden wine
Before her stars have set
Though dim one reddening orb may shine,
We have a Country yet.

'T were vain to sigh o'er errors past,
The fault of sires or sons;
Our soldier heard the threatening blast,
And spiked his useless guns;
He saw the star-wreathed ensign fall,
By mad invaders torn;
But saw it from the bastioned wall
That laughed their rage to scorn!

What though their angry cry is flung
Across the howling wave, -
They smite the air with idle tongue
The gathering storm who brave;
Enough of speech! the trumpet rings;
Be silent, patient, calm, -
God help them if the tempest swings
The pine against the palm!

Our toilsome years have made us tame;
Our strength has slept unfelt;
The furnace-fire is slow to flame
That bids our ploughshares melt;
'T is hard to lose the bread they win
In spite of Nature's frowns, -
To drop the iron threads we spin
That weave our web of towns,

To see the rusting turbines stand
Before the emptied flumes,
To fold the arms that flood the land
With rivers from their looms, -
But harder still for those who learn
The truth forgot so long;
When once their slumbering passions burn,
The peaceful are the strong!

The Lord have mercy on the weak,
And calm their frenzied ire,
And save our brothers ere they shriek,
"We played with Northern fire!"
The eagle hold his mountain height, -
The tiger pace his den
Give all their country, each his right!
God keep us all! Amen!

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