A Plea

COLUMBIA, large-hearted and tender,
Too long for the good of your kin
You have shared your home's comfort and splendor
    With all who have asked to come in.
The smile of your true eyes has lighted
    The way to your wide-open door;
You have held out full hands and invited
    The beggar to take from your store.

Your overrun, proud sister nations,
    Whose offspring you help them to keep,
Are sending their poorest relations--
    Their unruly, vicious black sheep.
Unwashed and unlettered you take them,
    And lo! we are pushed from your knee;
We are governed by laws as they make them,
    We are slaves in the land of the free.

Columbia, you know the devotion
    Of those who have sprung from your soil.
Shall aliens born over the ocean
    Dispute us the fruits of our toil?
Most gracious and noble of mothers,
    Your children rise up and demand
That you bring us no more fosterbrothers
    To breed discontent in the land.

Be prudent before you are zealous,
    Not generous only--but just;
Our hearts are grown wrathful and jealous
    Toward those who have outraged your trust.
They jostle and crowd in our places,
    They sneer at the comforts you gave;
We say: Shut the door in their faces
    Until they have learned to behave.

In hearts that are greedy and hateful,
    They harbour illwill and deceit;
They ask for more favors, ungrateful
    For those you have poured at their feet.
Rise up in your grandeur and straightway
    Bar out the bold clamoring mass,
Let sentinels stand at your gateway,
    To see who is worthy to pass.

Give first to your own faithful toilers
    The freedom our birthright should claim,
And take from these ruthless despoilers
    The power which they use to our shame.
Columbia, too long you have dallied
    With foes whom you feed from your store,
It is time that your wardens were rallied
    And stationed outside the locked door.

                  ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.

The Evening Bulletin [Philadelphia] 22 Oct. 1901: 7.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

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