Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
II. Freedom
The Little Cloud
John Howard Bryant (1807–1902)
 
[1853]

AS 1 when, on Carmel’s sterile steep,
  The ancient prophet bowed the knee,
And seven times sent his servant forth
  To look toward the distant sea;
 
There came at last a little cloud,        5
  Scarce larger than the human hand,
Spreading and swelling till it broke
  In showers on all the herbless land;
 
And hearts were glad, and shouts went up,
  And praise to Israel’s mighty God,        10
As the sear hills grew bright with flowers,
  And verdure clothed the valley sod,—
 
Even so our eyes have waited long;
  But now a little cloud appears,
Spreading and swelling as it glides        15
  Onward into the coming years.
 
Bright cloud of Liberty! full soon,
  Far stretching from the ocean strand,
Thy glorious folds shall spread abroad,
  Encircling our beloved land.        20
 
Like the sweet rain on Judah’s hills,
  The glorious boon of love shall fall,
And our bond millions shall arise,
  As at an angel’s trumpet-call.
 
Then shall a shout of joy go up,—        25
  The wild, glad cry of freedom come
From hearts long crushed by cruel hands,
  And songs from lips long sealed and dumb;
 
And every bondman’s chain be broke,
  And every soul that moves abroad        30
In this wide realm shall know and feel
  The blessèd Liberty of God.
 
Note 1. Arousing of Anti-Slavery agitation, when it was proposed in Congress to abolish the “Missouri Compromise” and throw open the Territories to slavery if their people should so vote. [back]
 
 
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