by Robert Laurence Binyon
To the People of the United States
Now is the time of the splendour of Youth and Death.
The spirit of man grows grander than men knew.
The unbearable burden is borne, the impossible done;
Though harder is yet to do
Before this agony end, and that be won
We seek through blinding battle, in choking breath,--
The New World, seen in vision! Land of lands,
In the midst of storms that desolate and divide,
In the hour of the breaking heart, O far--descried,
You build our courage, you hold up our hands.
Men of America, you that march to--day
Through roaring London, supple and lean of limb,
Glimpsed in the crowd I saw you, and in your eye
Something alert and grim,
As knowing on what stern call you march away
To the wrestle of nations; saw your heads held high
And, that same moment, far in a glittering beam
High over old and storied Westminster
The Stars and Stripes with England's flag astir,
Sisterly twined and proud on the air astream.
Men of America, what do you see? Is it old
Towers of fame and grandeur time--resigned?
The frost of custom's backward--gazing thought?
Seek closer! You shall find
Miracles hour by hour in silence wrought;
Births, and awakenings; dyings never tolled;
Invisible crumble and fall of prison--bars.
O, wheresoever his home, new or decayed,
Man is older than all the things he has made
And yet the youngest spirit beneath the stars.
Rock--cradled, white, and soaring out of the sea,
I behold again the fabulous city arise,
Manhattan! Queen of thronged and restless bays
And of daring ships is she.
O lands beyond, that into the sunset gaze,
Limitless, teeming continent of surmise!
I drink again that diamond air, I thrill
To the lure of a wonder more than the wondrous past,
And see before me ages yet more vast
Rising, to challenge heart and mind and will.
What sailed they out to seek, who of old came
To that bare earth and wild, unhistoried coast?
Not gold, nor granaries, nay, nor a halcyon ease
For the weary and tempest--tost:
The unshaken soul they sought, possessed in peace.
What seek we now, and hazard all on the aim?
In the heart of man is the undiscovered earth
Whose hope's our compass; sweet with glorious passion
Of men's good--will; a world to forge and fashion
Worthy the things we have seen and brought to birth.
Taps of the Drum! Now once again they beat:
And the answer comes; a continent arms. Dread,
Pity, and Grief, there is no escape. The call
Is the call of the risen Dead.
Terrible year of the nations' trampling feet!
An angel has blown his trumpet over all
From the ends of the earth, from East to uttermost West,
Because of the soul of man, that shall not fail,
That will not make refusal, or turn, or quail,
No, nor for all calamity, stay its quest.
And here, here too, is the New World, born of pain
In destiny--spelling hours. The old world breaks
Its mould, and life runs fierce and fluid, a stream
That floods, dissolves, re--makes.
Each pregnant moment, charged to its extreme,
Quickens unending future, and all's vain
But the onward mind, that dares the oncoming years
And takes their storm, a master. Life shall then
Transfigure Time with yet more marvellous men.
Hail to the sunrise! Hail to the Pioneers!
Last updated January 14, 2019