by John Vance Cheney
Freedom! have we won it yet?
To win it did our fathers set
Their strength, and build the home, the State,
That, faithful, we
Should have the mastery over fate,
Yon flag, no hand dare tear it down;
This proud, this high is our renown:
The nations look on us, and cry,—
"Stanchly they hold
The heritage of liberty,
The faith of old!"
The flattering nations look from far.
Freemen we seem, yet slaves we are,
Ironed with hateful gyves of greed;
We cramp the place
Of him our brother, in his need,
We grind his face.
On freemen's ground the gold unearned
Is gold unowned; be justice spurned,
Freedom holds off from low and high:
On freemen's sod
Whoso oppresses poverty
Freedom! won not yet, not yet.
Freemen deal truly, nor forget
That, now and in all days to be,
Throughout the earth
Only one power can make men free,—
THE GOLD OF HAVILAH
If reign you will in Havilah,
That land of plenty is your own;
But while you gather into bags
The gold, the banded onyx stone,
The high words there,
The black space writ across with fire,—
The laborer is worthy of his hire.
Yellow the gold in Havilah,
The gold is yellow and is good;
Lo, you may build of it your house,
May give of it for roof and food;
But take you care
He has his share,
Hungry in body and in soul,
Outworn with digging for you in the hole.
Mad, phantom kings! strive you to stand
As bywords and as things for mirth?
Your kingdom 's broken and plucked up;
Long since He portioned out the earth,
And heaven too.
What would you do?
Not all your gold can buy that trust,—
He raiseth up the poor from out the dust.
THE HYSSOP IN THE WALL
You 'd be a taller thing,
You shrubs who grow not to the goodly tree.
Wherefore? In low leaves, as in high, birds sing
Their summer melody.
Never since time began
A stalk yet for the impartial light too low.
June greens the meanest bush; the humblest man,
Her warm winds on him blow.
Shrubs be, and there be trees,
But this stands fast: shine down the sun and star
On these and those. What matter, those or these,
Since all God's plants they are?
You that would cast more shade,
Remember who it was that wrought you small;
He, and no other, He the cedar made,
The hyssop in the wall.
Blame not him at your side,
Him with the braver root and prouder limb;
Lift your bold mouths to heaven, and call awide;
The pattern is from Him.
Call, but first know that ills
Are every man's, as marrow in his bone;
That the Hand from one cup the measure spills,
Be it of bread or stone;
Know that all's poured for all;
Alike for sweetest tree of field or wood
And you, the bitter hyssop in the wall,—
The evil and the good.
This learned, it may draw nigher
To mortals then, the trustful prophet's morn
When shall come up the myrtle from the brier,
The fir-tree for the thorn.
Last updated September 07, 2017