Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Of Thine Own Country Sing
By William Ross Wallace (1819–1881)
 
[Born in Lexington, Ky., 1819. Died in New York, N. Y., 1881. Meditations in America, and Other Poems. 1851.]

I MET the wild-eyed Genius of our land
  In Huron’s forest vast and dim;
I saw her sweep a harp with stately hand;
  I heard her solemn hymn.
 
She sang of nations that had passed away        5
  From her own broad imperial clime;
Of nations new to whom she gave the sway:
  She sang of God and Time.
 
I saw the Past with all its rhythmic lore;
  I saw the Present clearly glow;        10
Shapes with veiled faces paced a far dim shore
  And whispered “Joy” and “Woe!”
 
Her large verse pictured mountain, vale, and bay;
  Our wide, calm rivers rolled along,
And many a mighty lake and prairie lay        15
  In the shadow of her song.
 
As in Missouri’s mountain-range, the vast
  Wild wind majestically flies
From crag to crag till on the top at last
  The wild wind proudly dies,        20
 
So died the hymn.—“O Genius! how can I
  Crown me with song as thou art crowned?”
She, smiling, pointed to the spotless sky
  And the forest-tops around,—
 
Then sang—“Not to the far-off lands of Eld        25
  Must thou for inspiration go:
There Milton’s large imperial organ swelled,
  There Avon’s waters flow.
 
“No alien-bard, where Tasso’s troubled lyre
  Made sorrow fair, unchallenged dwells—        30
Where deep-eyed Dante with the wreath of fire
  Came chanting from his hells.
 
“Yet sometimes sing the old majestic themes
  Of Europe in her song enshrined:
These, going wind-like o’er thy Sea of Dreams,        35
  May liberalize the mind.
 
“Or learn from mournful Asia, as she lies
  Musing at noon beneath her stately palms,
Her angel-lore, her wide-browed prophecies,
  Her solemn-sounding psalms:        40
 
“Or sit with Afric when her eyes of flame
  Smoulder in dreams, beneath their swarthy lids,
Of youthful Sphinx, and kings at loud acclaim
  On new-built Pyramids,
 
“But know thy Highest dwells at Home: there art        45
  And choral inspiration spring;
If thou wouldst touch the universal heart,
  OF THINE OWN COUNTRY SING.”
 
 
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