Sidney Lanier

(1842-1881 / Macon / Georgia)

Our Hills


Dear Mother-Earth
Of Titan birth,
Yon hills are your large breasts, and often I
Have climbed to their top-nipples, fain and dry
To drink my mother's-milk so near the sky.

O ye hill-stains,
Red, for all rains!
The blood that made you has all bled for us,
The hearts that paid you are all dead for us,
The trees that shade you groan with lead, for us!

And O, hill-sides,
Like giants' brides
Ye sleep in ravine-rumpled draperies,
And weep your springs in tearful memories
Of days that stained your robes with stains like these!

Sleep on, ye hills!
Weep on, ye rills!
The stainers have decreed the stains shall stay.
They chain the hands might wash the stains away.
They wait with cold hearts till we "rue the day".

O Mother-Earth
Of Titan birth,
Thy mother's-milk is curdled with aloe.
-- Like hills, Men, lift calm heads through any woe,
And weep, but bow not an inch, for any foe!

Thou Sorrow-height
We climb by night,
Thou hast no hell-deep chasm save Disgrace.
To stoop, will fling us down its fouled space:
Stand proud! The Dawn will meet us, face to face,
For down steep hills the Dawn loves best to race!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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