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An Ode by Madison Julius Cawein

_An Ode_

READ AUGUST 15, 1907, AT THE DEDICATION OF THE MONUMENT ERECTED AT GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS, IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FOUNDING OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY IN THE YEAR SIXTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THREE BY MADISON CAWEIN

JOHN P. MORTON & COMPANY, INCORPORATED. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY MCMVIII

_An Ode_

_In Commemoration of the Founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the Year 1623._

I.

They who maintained their rights, Through storm and stress, And walked in all the ways That God made known, Led by no wandering lights, And by no guess, Through dark and desolate days Of trial and moan: Here let their monument Rise, like a word In rock commemorative Of our Land's youth; Of ways the Puritan went, With soul love-spurred To suffer, die, and live For faith and truth. Here they the corner-stone Of Freedom laid; Here in their hearts' distress They lit the lights Of Liberty alone; Here, with God's aid, Conquered the wilderness, Secured their rights. Not men, but giants, they, Who wrought with toil And sweat of brawn and brain Their freehold here; Who, with their blood, each day Hallowed the soil. And left it without stain And without fear.

II.

Yea; here, from men like these, Our country had its stanch beginning; Hence sprang she with the ocean breeze And pine scent in her hair; Deep in her eyes the winning, The far-off winning of the unmeasured West; And in her heart the care, The young unrest, Of all that she must dare, Ere as a mighty Nation she should stand Towering from sea to sea, From land to mountained land, One with the imperishable beauty of the stars In absolute destiny; Part of that cosmic law, no shadow mars, To which all freedom runs, That wheels the circles of the worlds and suns Along their courses through the vasty night, Irrevocable and eternal as is Light.

III.

What people has to-day Such faith as launched and sped, With psalm and prayer, the Mayflower on its way?-- Such faith as led The Dorchester fishers to this sea-washed point, This granite headland of Cape Ann? Where first they made their bed, Salt-blown and wet with brine, In cold and hunger, where the storm-wrenched pine Clung to the rock with desperate footing. They, With hearts courageous whom hope did anoint, Despite their tar and tan, Worn of the wind and spray, Seem more to me than man, With their unconquerable spirits.--Mountains may Succumb to men like these, to wills like theirs,-- The Puritan's tenacity to do; The stubbornness of genius;--holding to Their purpose to the end, No New-World hardship could deflect or bend;-- That never doubted in their worst despairs, But steadily on their way Held to the last, trusting in God, who filled Their souls with fire of faith that helped them build A country, greater than had ever thrilled Man's wildest dreams, or entered in His highest hopes. 'Twas this that helped them win In spite of danger and distress, Through darkness and the din Of winds and waves, unto a wilderness, Savage, unbounded, pathless as the sea, That said, "Behold me! I am free!" Giving itself to them for greater things Than filled their souls with dim imaginings.

IV.

Let History record their stalwart names, And catalogue their fortitude, whence grew, Swiftly as running flames, Cities and civilization: How from a meeting-house and school, A few log-huddled cabins, Freedom drew Her rude beginnings. Every pioneer station, Each settlement, though primitive of tool, Had in it then the making of a Nation; Had in it then the roofing of the plains With traffic; and the piercing through and through Of forests with the iron veins Of industry. Would I could make you see How these, laboriously, These founders of New England, every hour Faced danger, death, and misery, Conquering the wilderness; With supernatural power Changing its features; all its savage glower Of wild barbarity, fierce hate, duress, To something human, something that could bless Mankind with peace and lift its heart's elation; Something at last that stood For universal brotherhood, Astonishing the world, a mighty Nation, Hewn from the solitude.-- Iron of purpose as of faith and daring, And of indomitable will, With axe and hymn-book still I see them faring, The Saxon Spirit of Conquest at their side With sword and flintlock; still I see them stride, As to some Roundhead rhyme, Adown the aisles of Time.


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