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Poem by Emma Lazarus
September 26, 1881. Weep for the martyr! Strew his bier With the last roses of the year; Shadow the land with sables; knell The harsh-tongued, melancholy bell; Beat the dull muffled drum, and flaunt The drooping banner; let the chant Of the deep-throated organ sob— One voice, one sorrow, one heart-throb, From land to land, from sea to sea— The huge world quires his elegy. Tears, love, and honor he shall have, Through ages keeping green his grave. Too late approved, too early lost, His story is the people's boast. Tough-sinewed offspring of the soil, Of peasant lineage, reared to toil, In Europe he had been a thing To the glebe tethered—here a king! Crowned not for some transcendent gift, Genius of power that may lift A Caesar or a Bonaparte Up to the starred goal of his heart; But that he was the epitome Of all the people aim to be. Were they his dying trust? He was No less their model and their glass. In him the daily traits were viewed Of the undistinguished multitude. Brave as the silent myriads are, Crushed by the juggernaut world-car; Strong with the people's strength, yet mild, Simple and tender as a child; Wise with the wisdom of the heart, Able in council, field, and mart; Nor lacking in the lambent gleam, The great soul's final stamp—the beam Of genial fun, the humor sane Wherewith the hero sports with pain. His virtues hold within the span Of his obscurest fellow-man. To live without reproach, to die Without a fear—in these words lie His highest aims, for none too high. No triumph his beyond the reach Of patient courage, kindly speech; And yet so brave the soul outbreathed, The great example he bequeathed, Were all to follow, we should see A universal chivalry. His trust, the People! They respond From Maine to Florida, beyond The sea-walled continent's broad scope, Honor his pledge, confirm his hope. Hark! over seas the echo hence, The nations do him reverence. An Empress lays her votive wreath Where peoples weep with bated breath. The world-clock strikes a fateful hour, Bright with fair portents, big with power,— The first since history's course has run, When kings' and peoples' cause is one; Those mourn a brother—these a son! O how he loved them! That gray morn, When his wound-wasted form was borne North, from the White House to the sea, Lifting his tired lids thankfully, "How good," he murmured in his pain, "To see the people once again!" Oh, how they loved him! They stood there, Thronging the road, the street, the square, With hushed lips locked in silent prayer, Uncovered heads and streaming eyes, Breathless as when a father dies. The records of the ghostly ride, Past town and field at morning-tide. When life's full stream is wont to gush Through all its ways with boisterous rush, —The records note that once a hound Had barked, and once was heard the sound Of cart-wheels rumbling on the stones— And once, mid stifled sobs and groans, One man dared audibly lament, And cried, "God bless the president!" Always the waiting crowds to send A God-speed to his journey's end— The anxious whisper, brow of gloom, As in a sickness-sacred room, Till his ear drank with ecstasy The rhythmic thunders of the sea. Tears for the smitten fatherless, The wife's, the mother's life-distress, To whom the million-throated moan From throne and hut, may not atone For one hushed voice, one empty chair, One presence missing everywhere. But only words of joy and sheer, The people from his grave shall hear. Were they not worthy of his trust, From whose seed sprang the sacred dust? He broke the bars that separate The humble from the high estate. And heirs of empire round his bed Mourn with the "disinherited." Oh, toil-worn, patient Heart that bleeds, Whose martyrdom even his exceeds, Wronged, cursed, despised, misunderstood— Oh, all-enduring multitude, Rejoice! amid you tears, rejoice! There issues from this grave a voice, Proclaiming your long night is o'er, Your day-dawn breaks from shore to shore. You have redeemed his pledge, remained Secure, erect, and self-sustained, Holding more dear one thing alone, Even than the blood of dearest son, Revering with religious awe The inviolable might of Law.
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