Song of the Revellers.

From: A Poem Delivered in The First Congregational Church in the Town of Quincy, May 25, 1840, The Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town.
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: James Munroe and Company Boston


On with your dances free!
Raise, raise the merry glee,
Drain the full cup to me,
Turn night to day!
Who cares for rigid laws?
Who minds the parson’s saws?
Who heeds the bailiff’s claws?
Let us be gay!

Ring out the festive strain!
Hence. with all care and pain,
Pledge me the bowl again,
Fill, brothers, fill I
Come on my gallants brave!
Trowl me the merry stave!
Look not so sad and grave!
We’ll have our will.

Down with your church and creed!
Ours is the faith indeed—
Ours is the life to lead—
Live while you may!
Tread we a measure then,
Fill the round bowl again,
We are true Englishmen
Gallant and gay!

Fear not the church’s ban,
Fear not the Puritan—
Fear not the ‘salvage man,’
Let us be brave!
Then by some sparkling fount,
When we our joys recount,
We’ll talk of Merry-Mount
By the blue wave!


Well might such sounds move the stern Pilgrim band
To sweep these gilded drones from out their land;
Ill could their rigid faith endure to see
This idle life—this midnight revelry.
An odd disorganizer was the man,
Who led to scenes like these this sober clan—
He looked on men as boys just out of school—
The “law—their schoolmaster,” he called a fool;
His mode of schooling did not seem to suit—
Indians he taught, not “young ideas,” to shoot.*
All things, in fine, seemed going fast to ruin,
Until their neighbors saw the evil brewing—
They caught the sheepskinned wolf who caused these pranks,
And sent him back to England—and gave thanks.
So when they’d stilled the bacchanalian roar,
Mount Wollaston was Merry-Mount no more,
And other settlers came of graver frame,
Until the spot and town received a name.

But ‘t is not mine to trace along its course
The stream of history from its early source.
I need not chronicle the immortal names,
The noble deeds and yet more noble aims,
Which shed the lustre of their deathless glory
Not o’er this spot alone—but through the story,
Which proud AMERICA records, and which will shine
Long as our rocks are wet by ocean’s brine.
But while our thoughts are gathering brilliant dreams
From the dim Past and its exhaustless themes,
Let us look round us and before, to see
What we now are—and what we yet must be.

Our fathers left to us this legacy—
And wrote it with their blood— all men are free.
All men are free.—They heard these words resound,
Long ere their footsteps trod this hallowed ground:
They heard it like the voice of God within,
When priests and tyrants threatened, and the din
Of persecution roared:—they heard it when
They lay like Daniel in the British Lion’s den.
They heard it in the everlasting roar
Of the wild sea that drove them to this shore:
They heard it in the thunder and the wind,
And in the voices deep and undefined,
Which spoke within their hearts, like visions bright,
Calling them to obey the inner light.
This was their gospel writ on flower and star,
This was their creed in peace, their strength in war.
It was the beacon-light to guide them on
To truths, which after times have seen and won
It was their cherished faith—their joy—their pride:
With this they lived and toiled—for this they died.
And where is he who thinks that he can crush
The God-lit fire of the blazing bush!
And with a little shaking of the head
To put the world like a cross child to bed;—
To trample out like sparks the waking mind,
And—quench its aspirations unconfined;—
Who seeks by chains, or frowns, or ridicule
To send back full-grown truth to an infant school;
When God says to the times—“Let there be Light!”
Where skulks the man who prays it may be night?
Let him appear—this dweller with the dead!
No—let him bury’ his diminished head,
Live with the bats, or burrow with the moles,
Nor taint the air which breathes on freeborn souls!

Vain hope! to hide the coming of a truth,
And kindle worn-out dogmas into youth.
Go quench the stars!—go stop the rivers’ flow!
Say to the sea, “thus far, no farther go!”
Or on some height, when day begins to break,
A match, a pile of faggots take,
And ere the Daystar in the east hath shone,
Make thee a little fire of thine own—
Fall down and worship it—their turn and say
To the great Sun—“Sun, I command thee, stay
Go back, thou morning, lest thy coming bright,
Should mar this fire, the true and only light!”
Shame be to him—the narrow-minded man
Who lets his soul to a base bigot clan;
Who, be he politician, priest, or pope,
Sneers at Humanity’s undying hope;
Sets traps to kill all thoughts of untried wing,
As some base sportsmen kill young birds in Spring;
Who sees no truth or good but in the past,
And trembles lest the world move on too fast—
And all who differ from himself miscalls
As mystics, infidels, or radicals.

If such in our free land and age there be,
No friend of truth and liberty is he:
He comes an age too late: let him go back,
Dwell with the monks, and ply the stake and rack.

No, let us guard the birthright of our sires.
Quench not the living spirit which aspires
After perfection;—let our fathers’ tombs
Be the rich soil on which our Progress blooms.
He that is free must grow. That which we have
Is but a mote compared to what we crave.
Forever onward must the spirit soar,
And fold its shining pinions never more!
With a firm faith in freedom, goodness, truth,
And in the soul’s undying power and youth,
Discarding bigotry and foolish pride,
Receiving fresh ideas from every side,
Unchained in charity—severe in thought,
And living in the truth our souls have caught,
Let us pursue the path our fathers marked,
And finish the great course on which their souls embarked.
For there are times when the awakening mind,
Rapt in itself with visions undefined,
Longing for light, and yet unreconciled
To the old creed its earlier years beguiled,
Looks with unsated eye into the past,
While dreams of surer truths come thronging fast;
And mounted on the knowledge it hath won—
Yet, like the Grecian conqueror, sighs to run
Another race, and gain another world—
Or like the Genoese, with sails unfurled,
Seeks o’er the boundless ocean of its thought
A land of truth scarce known, though often sought.

Then Persecution reigns—then frowns and sneers,
All bitter sarcasms, and all merry jeers,
The withering reproach—the slander vile—
The hot anathema—the icy smile—
The jail, the axe, the rack, the poison bowl,
Death for the body—curses for the soul;
These are thy playthings—these thy livery,
Thy noble badge—spirit of Bigotry!

Thou spectre hag! who, in the holy name
Of truth and dear Religion, hast with flame
And madness fired the world! Dread Sorceress,
Who turnest Eden to a wilderness!
Thou who dost choke the fountains with the blood
Of saints and sages—blackening Truth and Good
With the eclipse of Hell!—that strikest down
With thy envenomed breath and withering frown
All white-winged aspirations, and uprearest
Instead of them dire dreams which thou e’en fearest;
O dread unhallowed Spirit! would that we,
In this green land, might be unscathed by thee!
Would that the blighting shadow of thy wings
Might ne’er have touched the soil where Freedom springs.
Alas— thy fiery cup was poured o’er all,
And the wide world hath been thy powerless thrall!

Yet may we hope that the enchanter’s rod
Hath lightly touched the land the Pilgrim trod—
Here where no tyrant yet hath set his foot,
No Upas tree of vice yet struck its root,
Where o’er each ship that wings yon deep blue sea
Wave the proud stars and stripes of Liberty;—
Where from the meanest drudge that scours the street
Up to the ruler on his velvet seat,
One voice, one common hope inspires each breast,
Here may thy feet, O exiled Freedom, rest.

Light must still come. ‘T is but our dawning hour—
The drowsy soul must feel its godlike power.
O not in morning dreams of wealth and fame,
Must thou, America, pollute thy name,
And while the daybreak gleams around thee, steep
Thy freeborn youth in enervating sleep.
‘T was not for this our venerated sires
Tilled the bleak wilds, and marched through battle fires.
When war’s wild night with whirl wind fury roared,
When those brave hearts their blood so freely poured,
It was not that their children then unborn
Should doze away in dreams this peaceful morn.
Bui by their cruel stripes while we are healed,
Let us receive the light from them concealed;
Shame on us, if we think the task is wrought,
And the goal won, which they so fondly sought.
The scholar, priest, and statesman still must see
More truth and freedom for the true and free.
Truth that outlives all visionary dreams,—
Freedom which is—and not which only seems—
And both illumined by the Light above,
And sanctified by the great law of Love;
When man meets man no more with tyrant’s rod,
The brother of his race—the child of God.

And ye, bright spirits of Columbia’s sires,
Ere like Elijah, rapt in heavenward fires,
Ye have quite vanished from your children’s gaze,
Borne on bright chariots through “the sapphire blaze,”
Drop your inspired mantles ere ye go,
Upon your sons who linger still below!
‘T is not enough to track the star-paved road,
Which bears ye upward to your blest abode.
We need, alas! the wisdom and the might
Which touched your prophet-souls with heavenly light.
Not for the flashing sword and rolling drum,
Not for the withering spell, when kings sat dumb
Before your trumpet-blast and thunder-stroke,
Do we your presence and your power invoke;
But for the milder spirit which impelled
To labors still severer, and upheld
Patriot and sage to do and suffer all,
Rather than live a priest’s or despot’s thrall;—
For the great hope which gleamed on ye afar,
In patient thought, as in the storm of war—
For truth, for holiness, for liberty—
These are the gifts for which we turn to ye!

Thus while we view with undiverted eyes
The vistas of the past and future rise,
O deep but trembling are our hopes of thee,
America, thou clime of Liberty!
We fondly ask—while o’er thy rich expanse.
The crowds move on, “shall truth with them advance?
While wealth increases, shall the mind increase?
Shall war be banished by the smile of peace?
Shall man be false to man? shall love of gain
Fix in thy soul its desolating reign?
Shall Slavery still curse, intemperance kill,
Vice rove unpunished, passions have their will?
Shall truth be fettered, and her pleadings spurned,
And sweet Religion to a lie be turned?”

Soul of my Country! if thou art not hid
From thine own eyes, arouse thee and forbid
A prophecy so dark! Wake in thy might,
And o’er thy youthful beauty wear the bright
And spotless robe of holiness divine,
That the whole world may see no brighter land than thine!

Here may the FAITH, which other times denied,
For which lone sages toiled and martyrs died,
Be sought and valued as the purest gem,
That sparkles on thy ample diadem.
Here may the HOPE, so long but feebly cherished
In other lands, till it hath well nigh perished,
Light up the heart of man with strength divine,
Until another golden age shall shine.
Here may that CHARITY that never faileth,—
That love of man which over all prevaileth,
Be to each soul the fixed and central sun,—
The smile of God, the boon denied to none
The eye of heaven, the sweet expanding light,
The cloud by day, the shaft of fire by night!
O then, my Country, when thy tribes shall fill
Each flowery valley and each wild green hill,
When wealth hath purchased—wisdom—when thy soil
Lies all in bloom beneath the hand of toil,—
When the bright chain of love, that God hath given,
Extends from heart to heart, and thence to Heaven
And all that souls prophetic dream of thee
Is ripening in the smile of Liberty:
O then, America, thy name shall shine
Written in glory by a hand divine;
No blight upon thy beauty, not a shade—
To dim the robes in which thou art arrayed;
For He, who guided thee through storm and night,
Shall be to thee an Everlasting Light.

* Morton seems to have been one of the first of the settlers, who supplied the Indians with firearms, and instructed them in the Christian art of shooting men.
† See one of Miss Sedgwick’s tales, in her Love-Token for Children.

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