Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Genius of America
By Colonel David Humphreys (1752–1818)
 
Written during the insurrections in Massachusetts, in the year 1787

Tune—“The Watery God, &c.”

WHERE spirits dwell, and shadowy forms,
On Andes’ cliffs, mid blackening storms,
  With livid lightnings curl’d;
The awful genius of our clime
In thunder raised his voice sublime,        5
  And hush’d the listening world.
 
“In lonely waves and wastes of earth,
A mighty empire claims its birth,
  And Heaven asserts the claim:
The sails that hang in yon dim sky,        10
Proclaim the promised era nigh,
  Which wakes a world to fame.
 
“Hail, ye first bounding barks that roam
Blue, tumbling billows, topp’d with foam,
  Which keel ne’er plough’d before!        15
Here suns perform their useless round,
Here rove the naked tribes, embrown’d,
  Who feed on living gore.
 
“To midnight orgies, (offering dire!)
The human sacrifice on fire,        20
  A heavenly light succeeds—
But, lo! what horrors intervene,
The toils severe, the carnaged scene,
  And more than mortal deeds!
 
“Ye fathers, spread your fame afar,        25
’Tis yours to still the sounds of war,
  And bid the slaughter cease;
The peopling hamlets wide extend,
The harvests spring, the spires ascend,
  Mid grateful songs of peace.        30
 
“Shall steed to steed, and man to man,
With discord thundering in the van,
  Again destroy the bliss?
Enough my mystic words reveal,
The rest the shades of night conceal        35
  In Fate’s profound abyss.”
 
 
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