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Backward look across the ages and the beaconmoments see,

That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea;

Not an ear in court or market for the low forebod

ing cry

Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff must fly;

Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.


Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record

One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,

Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.



We see dimly in the Present what is small and

what is great,

Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,

But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din,

List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,

They enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin."


Slavery, the earth-born Cyclops, fellest of the giant brood,

Sons of brutish Force and Darkness, who have drenched the earth with blood,

Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our

purer day,

Gropes in yet unblasted regions for his miserable prey ;

Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless children play?


Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,

Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just ;

Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,

Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,

And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.


Count me o'er earth's chosen heroes,-they were souls that stood alone,

While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone,

Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline

To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine,

By one man's plain truth to manhood and to God's supreme design.


By the light of burning heretics Christ's bleeding feet I track,

Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back,

And these mounts of anguish number how each generation learned

One new word of that grand Credo which in prophet-hearts hath burned

Since the first man stood God-conquered with his face to heaven upturned.


For Humanity sweeps onward: where to-day the martyr stands,

On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;

Far in front the cross stands ready and the crackling fagots burn,

While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe


To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn.


'Tis as easy to be heroes as to sit the idle slaves Of a legendary virtue carved upon our fathers'


Worshippers of light ancestral make the present light a crime;

Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time?

Turn those tracks toward Past or Future, that make Plymouth Rock sublime?


They were men of present valor, stalwart old iconoclasts,

Unconvinced by axe or gibbet that all virtue was the Past's;

But we make their truth our falsehood, thinking that hath made us free,

Hoarding it in mouldy parchments, while our tender spirits flee

The rude grasp of that great Impulse which drove them across the sea.

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