November 8th, 1864.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


JOY to our reunited States!—one struggle more has passed.
A load is lifted from our hearts. The traitors stand aghast.
The Nation writes its record clear;—our land is saved at last!

Calmly mid armed conspirators this day a work is done,
Amid the thunder of the war one bloodless field is won,
That on the page of history glows in letters like the sun.

One effort of the people towards the source of primal light;
One forward leap across the gulf from chaos and from night;
One stride along the century to union based on right!

We see the rainbow span the gloom. We hear the deep-toned bell
That strikes the nation’s hour of noon, toll slavery’s funeral-knell.
Rebellion totters to its doom. The watchman cries, “All’s well.”

Not as a party’s triumph-shout rings out this people’s voice.
When Life and Death are in the scales, who wavers in his choice?
O flower of nations, blighted now no more, rejoice, rejoice!

O morning-glory of the earth! thy garden in the west
Is wet once more with falling dews of peace and love and rest.
Thou liftest up thy drooping head. All, all is for the best!

Thy petals are the sister States. Though scorched by battle’s fire,
Not one shall wither in the blast, now hot with foemen’s ire;
But fairer yet thy leaves shall rise, and broader still and higher.

No stain upon thy radiant disk, thy colors all re-blent,
Washed in the thunder-storm of war, to thee that storm has lent
Strength for the future that o’erpays the blood thy roots have spent.

My country, in this hour of hope, O, send to those who bear
The burden of the war to-day our help, our strength, our prayer;
Our greeting of the coming day, our farewell to despair!

O soldiers of a thousand fields! O brothers strong and young!
Brave hearts who breast the battery fires,—heroes unknown, unsung,—
Long galaxies of starlike lives and deaths above us hung!

What record of the historian’s pen, what poet’s loftiest lays,
What parallel from out the grand and stern old Roman days,
What sculptured monument those lives, those deaths, can overpraise!

We slumber calmly in our beds, and by our firesides read
The story of your battles grim. We see you march and bleed;
From hospital and prison hear your cries of pain and need.

Ye march that we may rest, our land free from the slave-lord’s rod;
Ye fall, that juster laws may flower from out your blood-stained sod;
Ye die, that we may live a life more true to man and God.

Through drenching rains and scorching fires we see you fighting still,—
No rest by day, no sleep by night, no joy your cup to fill,—
While we step calmly to the polls to vote the nation’s will.

A little sprinkling of the rain while standing in the queue,
We wait our turn amid the crowd to see our ballot through,
Then homeward wend, and thank our stars we’ve served our country too.

A little round of speech-making mid captivated ears;
A few intense mass-meetings, a few huzzas and cheers;
Some sleepless nights, some busy days, some weeks of hopes and fears;—

Such are the battles that we fight here in our peaceful North.
One hour of life in camp and field whole days of this seems worth;
Yet none the less is victory won. The nation’s will goes forth,

Once and forever forth,—the arm is held that beat it back;—
Goes forth to unmask the traitor’s plots, hunts on the foeman’s track;
Stands like the rock against the sea, the sun mid tempest’s wrack.

From east to west it thrills and rings, and tells this lesson plain:
Self-government henceforth achieved, our seeming losses gain;
War leads to peace, and yet no peace till slavery’s life be slain.

O strange and wondrous Providence, that scaled the people’s eyes,
Lest all too soon these mighty truths within their creed should rise!
We fought amid the clouds at first,—how slowly we grow wise!

Those truths we scorned four years ago now on our banners glow,
Burnt in and branded on our souls, in battling with the foe;
Ay, worn as amulets to shield our fame where’er we go.

We praise that stem fanatic, to death and triumph gone;
That voice crying in the wilderness,—rough herald of the dawn.
Our John the Baptist is not dead; his soul is marching on!

We cancel creeds of former days. Our timid codes are null.
We leave our ancient council-fires to smoulder low and dull.
We trust the nation’s newer life will heap its measure full.

A breeze of morning sweeps the sky. Old errors one by one
Are crowtletl back upon the south, a cloud-bank dark and dun,
Or hang in air like floating mists beneath the rising sun.

But still the northern winds must blow; yes, still war’s bitter blast
Must purify that poisoned air, till, force by right surpassed,
Each groaning bondsman breaks his chains, and all are free at last.

No half-truth now! Our feet are set upon a higher ground;
No more mid dawn’s uncertain shades, by old delusions bound;
The sun that shone on peaks alone now fills the vales around.

O trumpet voices of the press! O bards by visions stirred!
O leaders of the people’s will! O preachers of the Word!
Yours be the freest, truest tones the nation yet has heard!

Sound the keynote the age demands,—Humanity’s great prayer;
A sigh for peace, but not a lull of foul and stagnant air,
A sleep on a volcano’s brink, a stillness of despair:

No, not that helpless apathy, that torpor of the life
Drunk with the chloroform of lies,—the amputator’s knife
Ready by one fell cut to end the giant nation’s strife.

O bleeding land! thy North and South forever have been wed.
No quack shall drug thy cup, though bitter be the draught and red;
No knife shall touch thy limbs. I see, I see thee lift thy head;—

I see thee smile with sad, stern eyes, triumphant o’er thy woes;
Strength that o’ertops the surgeon’s skill through all thy members flows;
Thou standest as thou stoodst of old, a terror to thy foes.

I have no prophet’s sight or speech, and yet I sec thy form
Looming above the battle-smoke, unscathed amid the storm;
Around thy head the skies are blue, the sunshine still and warm.

Peaceful and wise I see thee sit, earth’s youngest, fairest queen;
War’s blackened wastes by freemen tilled, all waving gold and green;
From North to South, from sea to sea, no slave or tyrant seen;

Redeemed and strong forever. On field and hill and town,
All prophet dreams shall be fulfilled in wisdom and renown;
Thy newer life shall now begin, thy sun no more go down!

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