Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
Consecrated Ground
By Edwin Markham
An ode read at the New York City Hall, July 4, 1911

LET there be prayer and praise
On these worn stones and on these trodden ways;
For all around
Is holy ground,
Ground that departed years        5
Have hallowed with high dreams
(Freedom’s immortal themes)—
Made sacred, too, with fall of noble tears.
Let there be prayer and praise,
For here once, in the old, heroic days,        10
Appeared our Washington,
(Time had no nobler son!)
And here, beneath these lifted skies, he heard
From the new page God’s last oracular word—
The word the Bell of Liberty gave tongue—        15
The word forever old, forever young—
The cry, “Let Freedom be
On land, on sea!”
It was the great word that had sounded on
From far Thermopylae and Marathon.        20
Here they brought Lincoln, dead but deathless—here,
When hate had torn the April from the year.
Here on that darkened day
They brought the martyr on his homeward way;
And in this storied place        25
They laid him with his hushed, heroic face,
With all the patient mercies of his look
Still written there as in the Judgment Book—
A great soul that had greatly lived, and then,
Dying, sent out his greatness upon men.        30
And here with stately step and measured chant,
They brought our stern, sad, silent soldier, Grant;
Only a little more stilled, a little more
Than he had been on life’s loud ways before.
He was no babbler by the noisy gate:        35
Only in deeds was he articulate—
Strong to strike blows that Righteousness might live—
Strong also to forgive.
So here where we have brought our greatest dead,
Here is a shrine, here is an altar spread,        40
Where we may consecrate our hearts again
To their high hopes for men;
Knowing our heroes watch us from their spheres,
Still touched by mortal tears—
Knowing they watch us with their serious eyes,        45
There where the deathless climb the deathless skies.

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