Ode For Washington's Birthday

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Celebration Of The Mercantile Library Association, February 22, 1856

Welcome to the day returning,
Dearer still as ages flow,
While the torch of Faith is burning,
Long as Freedom's altars glow!
See the hero whom it gave us
Slumbering on a mother's breast;
For the arm he stretched to save us,
Be its morn forever blest!

Hear the tale of youthful glory,
While of Britain's rescued band
Friend and foe repeat the story,
Spread his fame o'er sea and land,
Where the red cross, proudly streaming,
Flaps above the frigate's deck,
Where the golden lilies, gleaming,
Star the watch-towers of Quebec.

Look! The shadow on the dial
Marks the hour of deadlier strife;
Days of terror, years of trial,
Scourge a nation into life.
Lo, the youth, become her leader
All her baffled tyrants yield;
Through his arm the Lord hath freed her;
Crown him on the tented field!

Vain is Empire's mad temptation
Not for him an earthly crown
He whose sword hath freed a nation
Strikes the offered sceptre down.
See the throneless Conqueror seated,
Ruler by a people's choice;
See the Patriot's task completed;
Hear the Father's dying voice!

"By the name that you inherit,
By the sufferings you recall,
Cherish the fraternal spirit;
Love your country first of all!
Listen not to idle questions
If its bands maybe untied;
Doubt the patriot whose suggestions
Strive a nation to divide!"

Father! We, whose ears have tingled
With the discord-notes of shame, -
We, whose sires their blood have mingled
In the battle's thunder-flame, -
Gathering, while this holy morning
Lights the land from sea to sea,
Hear thy counsel, heed thy warning;
Trust us, while we honor thee!

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