Chicago Exposition Ode Poem by Mary Weston Fordham

Chicago Exposition Ode

Columbia, all hail!
May thy banner ne'er be furled
Till Liberty, with her beauteous rays,
Enlighten all the world.
Columbia, to thee
From every clime we come,
To lay our trophies at thy feet-
Our sunbright, glorious home.

'Twas a lovely autumn morn,
And the leaves were turning red,
And the sturdy oaks and graceful pines
Their branches over-spread;
And the breezes softly swept
The hills and valleys o'er;
And the dew-kissed earth with incense sweet,
Crowned forest, grove and flower.

On a grassy knoll near by
Where the rustling leaves were piled,
Knelt a mighty chief of a mighty tribe,
And his band of warriors wild.
For the rising sun had shown
To the trained eyes of that band,
That vessels three, like white-winged birds,
Were steering straight for land.

Whence comes this stranger fleet?
Whence hails this Pale Face crew?
And the chieftain's brow was wrapped in pain
As his tomahawk he drew.
Then, with quivering voice, he said
Some evil may betide;
From the land of the sky this host has come-
Let's haste to the river side.

And the warriors started forth
Like fawns through the forest trees;
When lo! what a wondrous, solemn sight-
'Pale Faces' on their knees!
Before the Holy Cross,
Each with uncovered brow,
Prayed the mighty God, that His blessings e'er
Might this fair land endow.

And the stalwart braves-awe-struck-,
With heads bowed low on breast
As the veteran sailor proudly cried
San Salvador, the blest!

And this first, grand solemn act
Has been chronicled in heaven;
For, from East to West of this broad, fair land,
Has God's benison been given.

Then hail! bright, sunny land!
Home of the free, the brave!
From the eastern shores to the western plains,
Let thy banner proudly wave.
Nations beyond the seas
Shall worship at thy shrine,
Honor and wealth, and matchless power,
Columbia! be thine.

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