Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Our Atlas - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Not Atlas, with his shoulders bent beneath the weighty world,
Bore such a burden as this man, on whom the Gods have hurled
The evils of old festering lands-yea, hurled them in their might
And left him standing all alone, to set the wrong things right.

It is the way the Fates have done since first Time's race began!
They open up Pandora's box before some chosen man;
And then, aloof, they wait and watch, to see if he will find
And wake the slumbering God that dwells in every mortal's mind.

Erect, our modern Atlas stands, with brave uplifted head,
And there is courage in his eyes, if in his heart be dread.
Not dread of foes, but dread of friends, who may not pull together,
To bring the lurching ship of State safe through the stormy weather.

Oh, never were there wilder waves or more stupendous seas,
Or rougher rocks or bleaker winds, or darker days than these.
Not Washington, not Lincoln knew so grave an hour of Time
As he who now stands face to face with War's world-shaking crime.

His brain is clear, his soul is brave, his heart is just and right,
He asks no honours of the earth, but favour in God's sight;
His aim is not to wear a crown or win imperial power,
But to use wisely for the race life's terrible great hour.

O Liberty, who lights the world with rays that come from God,
Shine on Columbia's troubled track, and make it bright and broad;
Shine on each heart, and give it strength to meet its pains and losses,
And give supernal strength to one who bears the whole world's crosses;
Take from his thought the fear of friends who may not pull together,
And bring the glorious ship of State safe through wild waves and weather.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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