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Henry O'Meara Ballads of America



LIFT up the group - lift him who raised the lowly of his kind,
Friend of the slave - who struck the shackles from the limbs and mind;
Embalm in bronze a Nation's loss - a People's guardian slain -
The freedman's shattered Shield - embody, too, a Race's gain!
Lift high the life-linked forms - they cannot reach his lofty thought;
Make firm - they never can outlive the fame and work he wrought.
Yet shroud no more his lineaments - nor dwell on loss alone,
The death was but his country's grief - its grandeur's still his own.
Not all the groups of gods in Attic art or Antique story
Give bonds in brass of grander worth - more bright, emblazoned glory.
The lowliest flower, 'tis said, will sing to listen ing ears that learn -
Nature shows rich analogies to those who will discern;
Thus, too, this new Memorial speaks through voiceless bronze and stone -
Its sound is that of snapping chords, like Mem non's wondrous tone;
It tells of him to whom the call was given to see the right,
To speak the potent word and marshal men in Conscience might.

As when the moon, full crimson, peers through forest dense and dim,
And circumfusing, manifests each dark and knotted limb,
That lurid theme of war and slavery, death and lavished tears,
Kindles to sight the shame and sorrow of two hundred years.
Deep in the background of those darkly omened, bygone times,
The diorama shows two freighted barks from sundered climes, -
One bears to Plymouth men demanding free dom of the soul,
One to Virginia wretches in the slaver's grim control.
Not all our picturing words nor lum'ning Art can show
The blight and suffering brought in that Dutch slave-ship's freight of woe.
Then first the Valley of the James resorbed the bondsman's breath -
- Mother of States and Presidents, - she bore the germs of death.

But who can gauge the rain of tears and heart-wrung griefs that fell -
The wrongs and groans that rang since then what tongue of ire shall tell?
At last rose one who dared to do the martyr patriot part,
To warm deductions of the brain with prompt- ings of the heart -
The word of Science tells us that the heart force of a life
Would wear to dust a granite column grated by its strife
And so the heart of Lincoln and the Nation blent as one,
Ground on the rock of Slavery till all its base was gone.
As brave Telemachus amid Honorius' victims ran,
He gave himself to dust that man might cease to trample man.
Furious arose the enslaving throng, and rang Secession's cry -
They rushed to arms lest Freedom live - he met them lest it die.

Occasions of great pith and moment, if they serve at all,
Like Manna of the Hebrews, must be gathered as they fall.
"Delenda est Carthago" was the shibboleth of old,
"Delenda est Servitus," later, grander deeds foretold;
Stern L'Overture, on San Domingo's blood- drenched shore
A half a million in his land from Spanish bondage tore;
But Lincoln gave four millions of a misprized race release,
Yet held to foes the waiting hands of union and of peace.
Forgiving then he met the conflict's brunt, the treason's scar,
As sandal copse bestowing perfume on the blades that mar;
And like the sandal tree, his nature spurned a crawling thing- -
Aspiring heart, as gentle blood, true chivalry should bring.

Swiftly the weapon of the assassin smote his startled brain.
Awe-struck the Nation heard her guide and cherished chief was slain;
Pulses then beat as one - a spray of tears bedewed the Land,
For him who held' a People's hope and pur- pose in his hand.
Still, like a stream through snowy moon-lit fields, -
His heart's effusive tide, a glowing, melting moisture yields.
His memory's sweet as winds that woo the white anemones -
His dying moan in blanched hearts wakes un-dying monodies.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Round him, as Washington, the clustering stars of Union gather.
On him they fling the lustre of the Nation's - head and father;
The first bequeathed their realm and rights to colonists oppressed,
The last redeemed a race, the wrongs of centu- ries redressed.
His temples' gory glow the laurels of his fame shall screen,
Like aloes that each hundredth year shall find alive and green.
Confide no more alone to cenotaphs or columns cold,
The cause - the memories that warm and wakeful hearts should hold.
A thousand years agone, Dutch bulwarks checked the Zuyder Zee -
A thousand years to come must clay and willow curb that sea.
"The god of Nature sleeps," the pliant Epicurus taught;
"By wary work," cried saged Demosthenes, "our Freedom's bought."
Thus shall be stamped upon that broad based mound, a million graves -
"The martyr land of Lincoln ne'er again shall nurture slaves."

A race set free, the land at peace, his life and labor past, -
His euthanasia crowned, is crystallized in death at last;
Ages of thraldom now with Lincoln's deedful days are done;
The age of thronging thought and throned liberty begun!




Edited and formatted by Sheldon Brown
updated Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Sheldon Brown