America - Poem by Arlo Bates
For , O America, our country!—land
Hid in the west through centuries, till men
Through countless tyrannies could understand
The priceless worth of freedom,—once again
The world was new-created when thy shore
First knew the Pilgrim keels, that one last test
The race might make of manhood, nor give o'er
The strife with evil till it proved its best.
Thy true sons stand as torch-bearers, to hold
A guiding light. Here the last stand is made.
If we fail here, what new Columbus bold,
Steering brave prow through black seas unafraid,
Finds out a fresh land where man may abide
And freedom yet be saved? The whole round earth
Has seen the battle fought. Where shall men hide
From tyranny and wrong, where life have worth,
If here the cause succumb? If greed of gold
Or lust of power or falsehood triumph here,
The race is lost! A globe dispeopled, cold,
Rolled down the void a voiceless, lifeless sphere,
Were not so stamped by all which hope debars
As were this earth, plunging along through space
Conquered by evil, shamed among the stars,
Bearing a base, enslaved, dishonored race!
Here has the battle its last vantage ground;
Here all is won, or here must all be lost,
Here freedom's trumpets one last rally sound;
Here to the breeze its blood-stained flag is tossed.
America, last hope of man and truth,
Thy name must through all coming ages be
The badge unspeakable of shame and ruth,
Or glorious pledge that man through truth is free.
This is thy destiny; the choice is thine
To lead all nations and outshine them all:
But if thou failest, deeper shame is thine,
And none shall spare to mock thee in thy fall.
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