Poems of American history
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POEMS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Let us behold your faces, let us hear
The words ye uttered in those days of fear !
Revisit your familiar haunts again,
The scenes of triumph, and the scenes of pain,
And leave the footprints of your bleeding feet
Once more upon the pavement of the street!
Nor let the Historian blame the Poet here,
If he perchance misdate the day or year,
And group events together, by his art,
That in the Chronicles lie far apart;
For as the double stars, though sundered
far,
Seem to the naked eye a single star.
So facts of history, at a distance seen,
Into one common point of light convene.
" Why touch upon such themes? " perhaps
some friend
May ask, incredulous ; " and to what good
end?
Why drag again into the light of day
The errors of an age long passed away? "
I answer : " For the lesson that they teach :
The tolerance of opinion and of speech.
Hope, Faith, and Charity remain, these
three ;
And greatest of them all is Charity. "
Let us remember, if these words be true.
That unto all men Charity is due;
Give what we ask; and pity, while we blame,
Lest we become copartners in the shame,
Lest we condemn, and yet ourselves partake,
And persecute the dead for conscience ' sake.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
One of the earliest to feel the displeasure of
the ruling powers of the Colony was Roger Wil
liams, who came to Boston in 1631. He made
himself obnoxious to the government by denying
the right of the magistrates to punish Sabbath
breaking; and continued to occasion so much
excitement that it was decided to send him back
to England. Williams got wind of this, and took
to the woods in January, 1636.
ROGER WILLIAMS
[January, 1636]
WHY do I sleep amid the snows,
Why do the pine boughs cover me,
While dark the wind of winter blows
Across the Narragansett ' s sea ?
sense of right! O sense of right,
Whate ' er my lot in life may be,
Thou art to me God ' s inner light,
And these tired feet must follow thee.
Yes, still my feet must onward go,
With nothing for my hope but prayer,
Amid the winds, amid the snow,
And trust the ravens of the air.
But though alone, and grieved at heart,
Bereft of human brotherhood,
1 trust the whole and not the part,
And know that Providence is good.
Self-sacrifice is never lost,
But bears the seed of its reward;
They who for others leave the most,
For others gain the most from God.
sense of right! I must obey,
And hope and trust, whate ' er betide;
1 cannot always know my way.
But I can always know my Guide.
And so for me the winter blows
Across the Narragansett ' s sea.
And so I sleep beneath the snows,
And so the pine boughs cover me.
HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH.
Williams had a hard time of it. Thirty years
later, he related how he was " sorely tossed for
fourteen weeks in a bitter winter season, not
knowing what bread or bed did mean. "
GOD MAKES A PATH
GOD makes a path, provides a guide,
And feeds in wilderness!
His glorious name while breath remains,
O that I may confess.
Lost many a time, I have had no guide,
No house, but hollow tree!
In stormy winter night no fire,
No food, no company :
In him I found a house, a bed,
A table, company :
No cup so bitter, but ' s made sweet,
When God shall sweetning be.
ROGER WILLIAMS.
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