COLUMBIA!

Columbia, on you are fixed the wide world's wondering eyes:
Old nations that are scarred with wars put on a look most wise
And hide with patronizing airs their envy of your power
And offer you their free advice in this great crucial hour.

They do not seem to realize that you are fully grown;
Yet long ago you let them know you scorned a chaperon,
And when you were a debutante you made the welkin ring
With tales of proud Miss Liberty who dared defy a king.

But ever since you gave your hand to Progress, and became
A chatelaine to all the world, a hostess without blame,
Like carping dames, those ancient lands have watched you in surprise,
Compelled to marvel, loath to praise, and glad to criticise.

Your boundless wealth, your virile youth, your all too generous heart,
The intellect that holds its own whatever be your part,
Your rapid way of doing things, your comprehensive view,
Roused narrow Old to secret strife against a broader New.

Columbia, the whole Old World can never bar your way;
When prejudice with Progress copes, we know who wins the day.
The banner that you hold aloft is not a tyrant's rag:
Old Glory ever was, and is, and will be Freedom's Flag.

Your faults are but the faults of youth; your virtues are so great
You do not need the sage advice of lands degenerate.
You may be crude, you may be rash, but yet your heart is right,
And through your clear, benignant eyes there shines a holy light.

Though overzealous oftentimes, and overkind to those
Who only seek your shores for gain, and always are your foes,
Neglectful sometimes of your own who need your wiser care,
Yet, of all virtues of all lands you have the lion's share.

Your battles are not waged in hate, but rather forced by love.
Beside your fierce-eyed eagle sites the soft, persuasive dove.
Your god of war is but Reform in soldierly disguise,
And where your conquering armies pass, the flowers of Progress rise.

March on, march on, Columbia, the splendor of your day
Is but begun; you know the path, your feet will find the way.
The universal stumbling-block of lands and men is greed:
Walk wide of it, and let Love be your watchword and your creed.

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Cosmopolitan 26(1898):212


Back to Poem Index