Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1155. My Fatherland
By William Cranston Lawton
THE IMPERIAL boy had fallen in his pride
  Before the gates of golden Babylon.
  The host, who deemed that priceless treasure won,
For many a day since then had wandered wide,
By famine thinned, by savage hordes defied.        5
  In a deep vale, beneath the setting sun,
They saw at last a swift black river run,
While shouting spearmen thronged the farther side.
Then eagerly, with startled, joyous eyes,
  Toward the desponding chief a soldier flew:        10
  “I was a slave in Athens, never knew
  My native country; but I understand
The meaning of yon wild barbarian cries,
  And I believe this is my fatherland!”
This glimpse have we, no more. Did parents fond,        15
    Brothers, or kinsmen, hail his late return?
    Or did he, doubly exiled, only yearn
To greet the Euxine’s waves at Trebizond,
The blue Ægean, and Pallas’ towers beyond?
    Mute is the record. We shall never learn.        20
    But as once more the well-worn page I turn,
Forever by reluctant schoolboys conned,
A parable to me the tale appears,
  Of blacker waters in a drearier vale.
    Ah me! When on that brink we exiles stand,        25
  As earthly lights and mortal accents fail,
Shall voices long forgotten reach our ears,
    To tell us we have found our fatherland?


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