Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Victor’s Crown
By Sarah J. Hale (1788–1879)
A CROWN for the victor—a crown of light!
From a land where the flowers ne’er feel a blight,
Was gathered the wreath that around it glows,
And he who o’ercometh his treacherous foes,
  That radiant crown shall gain:—        5
A king went forth on the rebel array
That arose where a beautiful hamlet lay—
He frown’d—and there ’s nought save ashes and blood
And blacken’d bones where that hamlet stood,
  Yet his treacherous foes he hath not slain.        10
A crown for the victor—a crown of light!
Encircled with jewels so pure and bright,
Night never hath gloom’d where their lustre glows,
And he who can conquer his proudest foes,
  That glorious crown shall gain:—        15
A hero came from the crimson field,
And low at his feet the pale captives kneel’d—
In his might he had trodden a nation down,
But he may not challenge the glorious crown,
  For his proudest foe he hath not slain.        20
A crown for the victor—a crown of light!
Like the morning sun, to the raptured sight
From the night of a dungeon raised, it glows:
And he who can slay his deadliest foes,
  That shining crown shall gain:—        25
With searching eye and stealthy tread,
The man of wrath sought his enemy’s bed—
Like festering wounds are the wrongs he hath borne,
And he takes the revenge his soul hath sworn,
  But his deadliest foe he hath not slain.        30
A crown for the victor—a crown of light!
To be worn with a robe whose spotless white
Makes darkness seem resting on Alpine snows—
And he who o’ercometh his mightiest foes
  That robe and crown shall gain:—        35
With eye upraised—and forehead bare,
A pilgrim knelt down in holy prayer—
He hath wrestled with self and with passion striven,
And to him hath the sword of the Spirit been given—
  O, crown him, for his foes—his sins are slain!        40

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