Albery Allson Whitman

(1851-1901 / the United States)

The Freedman's Triumphant Song - Poem by Albery Allson Whitman

O, happy State!
And truly great
Exemplar of the free!
Thou first-born light of Western Skies
And cynosure of wond'ring eyes,
We hail to thee!
Thou paragon of world emprise,
Thrice hail!! Old orient monarchies,
With trains and retinues complete,
Their treasures bring to thy proud feet.

The mighty Sclav from polar snows;
From islands where the South wind blows, -
The simple native of the sun
Whose hours forever idly run;
The peer from Albion's lordly isle -
From where Italia's roses smile,
From sunny France's hills of vine.
And from the Tueton's love-sung Rhine -
And every tribe and tongue,
Wherever noble deeds are sung;
Thy valiant guests in royal mail,
Crowd on thy shores and chorus; 'hail!'
And, while all worlds doth call the blest,
Thou hope of worlds, the first and best;
Thy children of the ebon hue,
With other thousands mingling, too
Would with their songs of praise and love
Invoke eternal blessings from above.
Here 'neath the old red, white and blue,
The grandest flag that ever flew
Defiance in the face of foe,
Or waved o'er traitor lying low;
The Negro tried and ever true -
He of the dark and manly face,
In loyalty and love to thee.
Shall yield to none his place.

And Oh, thou of the Saxon vein!
Thou great of heart and great of brain;
The wealth piled by the centuries.
And glory spreading like the skies,
In this best land to mortals known;
Are not all thine, and thine alone,
Nay, thy dark brothers rise with thee,
And shout it down the ages: 'We!'
We point to these our noble guests,
In cords of gold and pluming crests;
We bid them welcome to our shores,
Our splendid homes, our bounteous stores;
We point them to our glorious plains
Widespread between the distant mains;
Our league-long herds that roam at will
O'er empire wastes of dale and hill;
Our harvests spread like seas of gold
Upon the happy view unrolled;
Our emprise touching all the earth, -
Railways of hemispheric girth,
Swept o'er by meteor-gliding trains;
Our ports where stately commerce reigns;
Our mills; our looms with endless song
Of thousand-spindled mirth along
Our great highways where day by day,
In gathering tides man streams away,
Eddying in towns and streaming on for aye.
We, too, shall sing undying lays
And warm our patriot hearts with praise.
Plymouth. Yorktown and Bunker Hill,
And Valley Forge, are names that thrill
And make our hearts within us burn,
And must till suns no more return.
And these for us dear shrines shall be
As long as man loves liberty.
For here, our blood, yea, even so -
Our blood at Bunker Hill did flow,
And redden Valley Forge's snow.
And when from all our storm-vexed coasts,
The battle-hurled and scattered hosts
Of royal George were driven to sea,
The Negro shared the victory!
He wore the scars, then what is due -
The honor - let him wear it too.
In simple justice, greet him then,
A man and peer among all men.

Time was, when at his weary task,
He yearned for rest and feared to ask.
Where rolls the stately James along
He told his mournful heart in song,
And bowed alone in silent prayer,
He brushed away a falling tear.
And heaven grew still that God might hear.
Up to the sapphire gates of day
The bondman's faith then found its way,
And plodding on he looked before,
And took the heart to hope once more.
He heard the music of the pines,
And in a tree-walled cathedral
Saw glory where the sunlight shines;
Heard freedom in the waterfall
And felt within that this life is not all.
Yea; 'mid the awe of boughs and vines,
Where fight and shade weave mystic shrines,
On bended knee still trusting God,
He blest the hand that held the smiting rod.

But freedom came, thank God, at last
And broke the gates of iron caste!
Then at his task the bondman heard
The call that equal rights conferred,
And rush to where the cannon's boom
In broken ranks had made him room.
And there, in his uncovered might,
On liberty's eternal height,
With glory's sunshine on his head,
He trod where none but heroes tread;
And flying the old flag full and fair,
He held it high and waved it there.

Hurrah for him! though hell deride
The splendid star of martial pride!
In battle, march and camp, a man;
The corps of Grant and Sheridan
Owned him as brave as ever stood
To face a foe on field of blood!
He met the matchless chieftain Lee -
The Charles Martel of chivalry:
He faced him on the angry field,
And dared to die, ere he would yield!
Hurrah for him! Let caste's old mouth
Keep still about a 'North and South'
The Negro's dark intrepid brow
Shall wear the hero's laurels now.
Hurrah for him! The soldier: man
Who followed Grant and Sheridan,
But slavery's sins wiped out in blood,
The ways of God are understood.
Forgetting all the ashen past -
The hounds, the whips, the wounds of caste,
The Negro lifts his manly brow
To God, and joins the glorious now!
He in the strongholds of the heights;
The beacon blaze of freedom lights;
And on our borders builds the fires
Whose girdling watch-light ne'er expires;
And with the tiller of the soil,
And every honest son of toil,
With eager stride, and hand in hand,
He joins to bless his native land.

In all the walks of enterprise
He hastens on 'neath happy skies,
His willing hands to now engage
And help round out this wonder age:
Help, till the force of harnessed steam,
The rushing strength of every stream,
She captured winds that round us stray;
And lightnings in their fiery play;
Are all compelled to serve the hour
And build the nation's wealth and power;
Help, till the surge and swirl of trade
Have deep, world-reaching currents made,
Till irrigation crown with green
The thirsty desert's arid scene;
And drainage lay our last swamp bare
Before the hopeful plowman's share -
Help, till the whole task nobly done
Our glorious nation stand alone;
Stronghold of liberty
And home-world of the free, -
Sea-watched and mountain-watched.
Which no war-storm can shock;
Builded upon the everlasting rock.

Lo! How he toils and waits,
Where light within his gates
Shines from the future down
Upon the eager millions of his race,
Who struggle in for place
And reach for manhood's crown;
And when the centuries shall have shown
The nation's splendor fully grown,
The Negro still invincible,
Bearing the tests of honor well,
Will leave with those who lead the van,
A proud, inevitable man

In every land beneath the sun,
Where human rights are staked and won
Brave hearts have loved their place of birth,
That dearest spot of all the earth.
And shall the Negro turn away
And leave his native land for aye?
'No every!' every home industry cries,
'No,' every passing zephyr sighs, -
The waters pause and murmur, 'no!'
And mountains thunder, 'even so!'
Our forests laugh the thought to scorn,
And lusty fields of growing corn;
With tall herds waving in the sun,
As light in riplets o'er them run,
Whisper: 'Ha, ha! Hold to your home
In spite of all the worlds to come!'
And hold we will, 'gainst all who boast
Our flag, just hailed from foreign coast:
To such - who never tilled a field
To such, we cannot, will not yield.
Our rights are not conferred but, won
Through sweat and blood - in storm and sun,
And here contending to the end
We'll fight it out with foe or friend.

Fear not, Columbia! Never fear
The Negro's well-known presence here.
Thy granite strength will leave its base,
Not at the hands of this good race;
But on accout of inbred sin,
Warped through thy life and woven in.
Fear not polution from his touch.
But foreign contact, fear it much.
The rum-power's dens on every street
Yawning beneath thy children's feet -
The open gates that lead to shame
The rings, the races and the games;
The howling mobs that spurn control;
These rather fear that blight thy soul!

But hopes for thee; thou country of our love
And faith and prayer, for blessings from above,
One land: the best by mortals ever trod;
One flag, one people, and one father - God.
Our motto: 'Liberty; or death for all!'
The nations tower of strength will never fall.
The opening century swings for us a gate,
And all the forces of creation wait
To send Columbia forth to lead the van,
And set the pace for liberated man.

Then trusting Him who hears the raven's cry,
And guides the planets with unerring eye;
Who turns to see the little sparrow's wing,
Tho' round His throne the dread Archangels sing;
And hnto him ascribing all the praise
For power and glory; peace and happy days,
Oh! may Columbia forever reign,
The pride of worlds, with empires in her train!

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 18, 2010

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