Of their great names I may record but few;
He who beholds the Ocean white with sails
And copies each confuses all the view,
He paints too much - and fails.
His picture shows no high, emphatic light,
Its shadows in full mass refuse to fall,
And as its broken details meet the light
Men turn it to the wall.
Of those great names but few may pass my lips,
For he who speaks of Salamis then sees
Not men who there commanded Grecian ships -
But grand Themistocles!
Yet some I mark, and these discreetly take
To grace my verse through duty and design,
As one notes barks that leave the broadest wake
Upon the stormy Brine.
These rise before me; and there Mason stands
The Constitution-maker firm and bold,
Like Bernal Diaz, planting with kind hands
Fair trees to blaze in gold.
Amid the lofty group sedate, I see
Great Franklin muse where Truth had locked her stores,
Holding within his steady hand the key
That opened many doors.
And Trumbull, strong as hammered steel of old,
Stands boldly out in clear and high relief, -
A blade unbending worth a hilt of gold, -
He never failed his Chief.
Then Robert Morris glides into my Verse
Turning the very stones at need to bread -
Filling the young Republic's slender purse
When Credit's self seemed dead.
Tylers I see - sprung from the sturdy Wat -
A strong-armed rebel of an ancient date,
With Falkland-Carys come, to draw the lot
Cast in the helm of Fate.
And Marshall in his ermine white as snow,
Wise, learned and profound Fame loves to draw,
His noble function on the Bench to show
That Reason is the Law.
His sword unbuckled and his brows unbent,
The gallant Hamilton again appears,
And in fair Freedom's mighty Parliament
He marches with the Peers!
Henry is there beneath his civic crown;
He speaks in words that thunder as they flow,
And as he speaks his thunder-tones bring down
An avalanche below!
Nor does John Adams in the picture lag,
He was as bold, as resolute, and free,
As is the eagle on a misty crag
Above a stormy sea.
And 'mid his fellows in those days of need,
Impassioned Jefferson burns like a sun,
The New World's Prophet of the New World's Creed -
Prophet and Priest in one!
These two together stood in our great past,
When Independence flamed across the land;
On Independence Day these two at last
Departed hand in hand.
And they are taken by a patriot's mind
As kindred types of our great Saxon stock,
And that same thinker hopes some day to find
Both statues in one block.
But, here I number splendid names too fast,
Heroes and Sages throng behind this group,
And thick they come as came in Homer's past
A Goddess and her troop;
And as that troop, 'mid frays and fell alarms,
Swept, all a-glitter, on their mission bent,
And bore from Vulcan the resplendent arms
To great Achilles sent,
So came the names that light my pious Song -
Came bearing Union forged in high debates -
A sun-illuminated Shield, and strong,
To guard these mighty States.
The Shield sent to the son of Peleus glowed
With hammered wonders, all without a flaw;
The Shield of Union in its splendor showed
The Compromise of Law.
And as the Epic lifts a form sublime
For all the Ages on its plinth of gold,
So does our Story, challenging all time,
Its crowning shape uphold!