O You who weep in discontent
And think your strenuous toil has failed,
Remember one who sailed and sailed
Until he claimed a continent.
Fixed as the stars his purpose was,
And mightier than he knew his quest.
He sought an island at the best,
And found the great Americas.
When, at God's word, the earth wheeled into space,
Three sleepless oceans stood to guard my place,
And at my feet, a fond duenna sea
Watched as I ripened for my destiny.
In other lands, rude rapine reigned supreme
While I lay smiling in my maiden dream.
While other countries hurried to decay,
The silent Centuries tiptoed on their way
And left me, unmolested, to my fate.
Half the old world had grown degenerate
When Progress came, and woke me with a kiss.
The sentinel Seas were witnesses to this,
And God himself gave sanction in that hour,
Bestowing Freedom as my wedding dower.
Good Mother Nature gave me grains and gold,
Vast fertile fields and mines of wealth untold,
Knowing the spouse of God's prime minister,
Supreme and noble Progress, must confer
Wide benefits upon mankind, and share
With all who asked her succor and her care.
The generous hostess of admiring earth,
I entertained all nations at my hearth.
Far in the south, my beauteous sister wept
The monstrous wrongs inflicted while she slept.
A rude despoiler crushed her in fierce arms
And robbed her of her riches and her charms.
Lustful with greed and insolent with strength
All spendthrift monarchies become at length.
Spain was an autocrat, inspiring fear,
And even Progress dared not interfere.
Fair, opulent-hearted sister with sad eyes,
How long your prayers ascended to deaf skies!
Justice walks slowly when her pathway leads
Through courts of kings, encumbered with harsh creeds.
Yours was the lot to suffer and to wait,
Mine to move forward, with my peerless mate.
Behold us in the glory of our prime,
Astounding wisdom and surprising time.
We shake Tradition on its tottering throne,
And from Convention wring a startled groan,
As some old method or worn creed is brought
Beneath the sickle of advancing thought.
We are the educators of the world:
Our free-school banner, to the winds unfurled,
Bids all men think. Our bold, corrective press
Bids all men hope for justice and redress.
Peace long has been our watchword; brief and few
Our bloody wars: 'tis thus our glory grew.
When honor forced or sympathy impelled
Our hosts to battle, watchful eyes beheld,
Close following where our conquering armies trod,
The vast progressive purposes of God.
He who is mortal must be prone to err.
Too much ambition in my veins may stir.
Too generous to be just, I may have been
(My own excluding, to let others in);
And too much zeal my wisdom may impair.
Yet where our banner once is planted, there
And education beautify and bless
This slow-evolving world, and aid mankind
To that best strength which comes from being kind.
The earth's true freedom yet shall spring from me.
I am the mother of great men to be--
Men who will toil for universal good,
And found Republics, based on brotherhood.
When all Americas unite in one,
Then shall we find the Golden Age begun.
One flag, one purpose, godllike in its scope--
To give all men the right to work and hope;
To banish charity, and in its place
To throne fair Justice in her regal grace;
To make the glittering crowns of idle kings
Seem like the caps of fools in sawdust rings,
And hoarded wealth a public badge of shame:
March on! march on! to this majestic aim!
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Cosmopolitan 31 (Sept. 1901): 529-30.
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