George Edward Woodberry

(1855-1930 / United States)


I WILL rise, I will go from the places that are dark with passion and pain,
From the sorrow-changëd woodlands and a thousand memories slain.
O light gone out in darkness on the cliff I seek no more
Where she I worshipped met me in her girlhood at the door!
O, bright though years how many! fare-well, sweet guiding star—
The wild wind blows me seaward over the harbor-bar!
Better thy waste, gray Ocean, the homeless, heaving plain,
Than to choke the fount of life and the flower of honor stain!
I will seek thy blessed shelter, deep bosom of sun and storm,
From the fever and fret of the earth and the things that debase and deform;
For I am thine; from of old thou didst lay me, a child, at rest
In thy cradle of many waters, and gav’st to my hunger thy breast;
Remember the dreamful boy whom thy beauty preserved from wrong,—
Thou taughtest me music, O Singer of the never-silent song!
Man-grown, I will seek thy healing; though from worse than death I fly,
Not mine the heart of the craven, not here I mean to die!
Let me taste on my lips thy salt, let me live with the sun and the rain,
Let me lean to the rolling wave and feel me man again!
O, make thee a sheaf of arrows as when thy winters rage forth,—
Whiten me as thy deep-sea waves with the blanching breath of the North!
O, take thee a bundle of spears from thine azure of burning drouth,
Smite into my pulses the tremors, the fervors, the blaze of the South!
So might my breath be snow-cold, and my blood be pure like fire,
The heavenly souls that have left me will come back to sustain and inspire.
Take me—I come—O, save me in the paths my fathers trod!
Then fling me back to the battle where men labor the peace of God!

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
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