Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
America
By Harriet Monroe
 
SHE is young and beautiful—my country—
Mother of many children.
Years ago,
A slim girl running on sea sand,
She heard Niagara shouting the message of mountains,        5
And the great lakes singing softly
Of prairies that swing in the wind.
How could she stay, keeping soft and white her rich and powerful hands?
She rose and walked like the sun into the west:
Sowing, reaping, felling the forests,        10
Digging out coal and iron and gold from the hills.
Onward, outward—
Past rivers like a sea,
And mountains that snowily, secretly, kiss the moon—
Out to shining Arizona athirst in the sun        15
And Oregon shaggy with firs by her northern ocean,
Whom the silver Sierras link together forever.
 
And she gathered the children of many races into her arms,
And said, “Hate dies here—be brothers.”
She lifted the humble to the high place,        20
And the proud she rebuked with a laugh.
 
At ease in her strength she lay dreaming
When the heat of the day was done.
But suddenly—far away—
Out of the thick black night, out of the past,        25
Came the terrible booming of guns,
The tramp of armies marching over fallen towers,
Over cottages collapsing into dust.
And through the iron clamor she heard agony calling—
The bitter cries of children starved and driven,        30
Of young girls ravished,
Of boys ripped open on the trench-strung field;
And the dull groans of the old
Prodded from the flaming door.
 
Once more the incredible thing—        35
The tyrant gorged and ruthless
Spitting red war in the face of the world!
Once more Freedom at bay—threatened, defiant—
Calling her chosen,
Lifting her rainbow-colored flags to the sun!        40
 
My country,
Beautiful and strong,
Startled, slowly arising,
Hearing at last the insult,
Feeling the crimson mist in her eyes,        45
My country stood up tall to the height of the world—
Straight and tall,
From the blue Caribbean at her feet
To her coronal of islands
Strung from the Arctic sea.        50
And she summoned her states,
And breathed in their ears the iron vow of war—
War to the end, to the death, war to the life,
War of the free, for the free, till the world is freed.
 
She gathered her armies,        55
Her millions of sons,
And loosed them like flakes of snow to the storm,
Bidding them cover and smother and put out forever
The abysmal abominable fires.
In massive drifts she hurled them,        60
Over land and sea and through blue trails of air—
Crystal souls of youth,
That seized the sun in a flash
And flung it to whatever eye would see,
Spending, giving their light, lest it be put out in the wind.        65
She bade them move innumerably, mass on mass,
To smother and quench forever the infernal fires,
And nourish the new spring—
The flower-fringed hope of the world.
 
O my country,        70
Seeker of freedom,
How shall she pause in the ways of peace or war
On her long march toward the far-off invisible goal—
The city of white towers,
The city of love,        75
Where the nations of the earth shall meet in joy together,
And the souls of men shall be free!
 
 
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