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An Ode
by Madison J. Cawein
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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.

V.

Can praise be simply said of such as these? Such men as Standish, Winthrop, Endicott? Such souls as Roger Conant and John White? Rugged and great as trees, The oaks of that New World with which their lot Was cast forever, proudly to remain. That world in which each name still stands, a light To beacon the Ship of State through stormy seas. Can praise be simply said Of him, the younger Vane, Puritan and patriot, Whose dedicated head Was laid upon the block In thy name, Liberty! Can praise be simply said of such as he! Needs must the soul unlock All gates of eloquence to sing of these. Such periods, Such epic melodies, As holds the utterance of the earlier gods, The lords of song, one needs To sing the praise of these! No feeble music, tinklings frail of glass; No penny trumpetings; twitterings of brass, The moment's effort, shak'n from pigmy bells, Ephemeral drops from small Pierian wells, With which the Age relieves a barren hour. But such large music, such melodious power, As have our cataracts, Pouring the iron facts, The giant acts Of these: such song as have our rock-ridged deep And mountain steeps, When winds, like clanging eagles, sweep the storm On tossing wood and farm: Such eloquence as in the torrent leaps,— Where the hoarse canyon sleeps, Holding the heart with its terrific charm, Carrying its roaring message to the town,— To voice their high achievement and renown.

VI.

Long, long ago, beneath heaven's stormy slope, In deeds of faith and hope, Our fathers laid Freedom's foundations here, And raised, invisible, vast,— Embodying naught of doubt or fear, A monument whose greatness shall outlast The future, as the past, Of all the Old World's dynasties and kings.— A symbol of all things That we would speak, but cannot say in words, Of those who first began our Nation here, Behold, we now would rear! A different monument! a thought, that girds Itself with granite; dream made visible In rock and bronze to tell To all the Future what here once befell; Here where, unknown to them, A tree took root; a tree of wondrous stem; The tree of high ideals, which has grown, And has not withered since its seed was sown, Was planted here by them in this new soil, Who watered it with tears and blood and toil: An heritage we mean to hold, Keeping it stanch and beautiful as of old.— For never a State, Or People, yet was great Without its great ideals;—branch and root Of the deep tree of life where bud and blow The dreams, the thoughts, that grow To deeds, the glowing fruit.

VII.

The morn, that breaks its heart of gold Above the purple hills; The eve, that spills Its nautilus splendor where the sea is rolled; The night, that leads the vast procession in Of stars and dreams,— The beauty that shall never die or pass:— The winds, that spin Of rain the misty mantles of the grass, And thunder-raiment of the mountain-streams; The sunbeams, needling with gold the dusk Green cowls of ancient woods; The shadows, thridding, veiled with musk, The moon-pathed solitudes, Call to my Fancy, saying, "Follow! follow!" Till, following, I see,— Fair as a cascade in a rainbowed hollow,— A dream, a shape, take form, Clad on with every charm,— The vision of that Ideality, Which lured the pioneer in wood and hill, And beckoned him from earth and sky; The dream that cannot die, Their children's children did fulfill. In stone and iron and wood, Out of the solitude, And by a forthright act Create a mighty fact— A Nation, now that stands Clad on with hope and beauty, strength and song, Eternal, young, and strong, Planting her heel on Wrong, Her starry banner in triumphant hands.... Within her face the rose Of Alleghany dawns; Limbed with Alaskan snows, Floridian starlight in her eyes,— Eyes stern as steel yet tender as a fawn's,— And in her hair The rapture of her rivers; and the dare, As perishless as truth, That o'er the crags of her Sierras flies, Urging the eagle ardor through her veins, Behold her where, Around her radiant youth, The spirits of the cataracts and plains, The genii of the floods and forests, meet, In rainbow mists circling her brow and feet: The forces vast that sit In session round her; powers paraclete, That guard her presence; awful forms and fair. Making secure her place; Guiding her surely as the worlds through space Do laws sidereal; edicts, thunder-lit, Of skyed eternity, in splendor borne On planetary wings of night and morn.

VIII.

Behold her! this is she! Beautiful as morning on the summer sea, Yet terrible as is the elemental gold That cleaves the tempest and in angles clings About its cloudy temples.—Manifold The dreams of daring in her fearless gaze, Fixed on the future's days; And round her brow, a strand of astral beads, Her soul's resplendent deeds; And at her front one star, Refulgent hope, Like that on morning's slope, Beaconing the world afar.— From her high place she sees Her long procession of accomplished acts. Cloud-wing'd refulgences Of thoughts in steel and stone, of marble dreams, Lift up tremendous battlements, Sun-blinding, built of facts; While in her soul she seems, Listening, to hear, as from innumerable tents, AEonian thunder, wonder, and applause Of all the heroic ages that are gone; Feeling secure That, as her Past, her Future shall endure, As did her Cause When redly broke the dawn Of fierce rebellion, and, beneath its star, The firmaments of war Poured down infernal rain, And North and South lay bleeding 'mid their slain. And now, no less, shall her Cause still prevail, More so in peace than war, Through the thrilled wire and electric rail, Carrying her message far; Shaping her dream Within the brain of steam, That, with a myriad hands, Labors unceasingly, and knits her lands In firmer union; joining plain and stream With steel; and binding shore to shore With bands of iron;—nerves and arteries, Along whose adamant forever pour Her concrete thoughts, her tireless energies.



On Old Cape Ann



On Old Cape Ann

I.

ANNISQUAM

Old days, old ways, old homes beside the sea; Old gardens with old-fashioned flowers aflame, Poppy, petunia, and many a name Of many a flower of fragrant pedigree. Old hills that glow with blue- and barberry, And rocks and pines that stand on guard, the same. Immutable, as when the Pilgrim came, And here laid firm foundations of the Free. The sunlight makes the dim dunes hills of snow, And every vessel's sail a twinkling wing Glancing the violet ocean far away: The world is full of color and of glow; A mighty canvas whereon God doth fling The flawless picture of a perfect day.

II.

"THE HIGHLANDS," ANNISQUAM

Here, from the heights, among the rocks and pines, The sea and shore seem some tremendous page Of some vast book, great with our heritage, Breathing the splendor of majestic lines. Yonder the dunes speak silver; yonder shines The ocean's sapphire word; there, gray with age, The granite writes its lesson, strong and sage; And there the surf its rhythmic passage signs. The winds, that sweep the page, that interlude Its majesty with music; and the tides, That roll their thunder in, that period Its mighty rhetoric, deep and dream-imbued, Are what it seems to say, of what abides, Of what's eternal, and of what is God.

III.

STORM AT ANNISQUAM

The sun sinks scarlet as a barberry. Far off at sea one vessel lifts a sail, Hurrying to harbor from the coming gale, That banks the west above a choppy sea. The sun is gone; the tide is flowing free; The bay is opaled with wild light; and pale The lighthouse spears its flame now; through a veil That falls about the sea mysteriously. Out there she sits and mutters of her dead, Old Ocean; of the stalwart and the strong, Skipper and fisher whom her arms dragged down: Before her now she sees their ghosts; o'erhead, As gray as rain, their wild wrecks sweep along, And all night long lay siege to this old town.

IV.

FROM COVE TO COVE

The road leads up a hill through many a brake, Blueberry and barberry, bay and sassafras, By an abandoned quarry, where, like glass, A round pool lies; an isolated lake, A mirror for what presences, that make Their wildwood toilets here! The road is grass Gray-scarred with stone: great bowlders, as we pass, Slope burly shoulders towards us. Cedars shake Wild balsam from their tresses; there and here Clasping a glimpse of ocean and of shore In arms of swaying green. Below, at last, Beside the sea, with derrick and with pier, By heaps of granite, noise of drill and bore, A Cape Ann town, towering with many a mast.

V.

PASTURES BY THE SEA

Here where the coves indent the shore and fall And fill with ebb and flowing of the tides; Whereon some barge rocks or some dory rides, By which old orchards bloom, or, from the wall, Pelt every lane with fruit; where gardens, tall With roses, riot; swift my gladness glides To that old pasture where the mushroom hides, The chicory blooms and Peace sits mid them all. Fenced in with rails and rocks, its emerald slopes,— Ribbed with huge granite,—where the placid cows Tinkle a browsing bell, roll to a height Wherefrom the sea, bright as adventuring hopes, Swept of white sails and plowed of foaming prows, Leaps like a Nereid on the ravished sight.

VI.

THE DUNES

Far as the eye can see, in domes and spires, Buttress and curve, ruins of shifting sand,— In whose wild making wind and sea took hand,— The white dunes stretch. The wind, that never tires, Striving for strange effects that he admires, Changes their form from time to time; the land Forever passive to his mad demand, And to the sea's, who with the wind conspires. Here, as on towers of desolate cities, bay And wire-grass grow, wherein no insect cries, Only a bird, the swallow of the sea, That homes in sand. I hear it far away Crying—or is it some lost soul that flies, Above the land, ailing unceasingly?

VII.

BY THE SUMMER SEA

Sunlight and shrill cicada and the low, Slow, sleepy kissing of the sea and shore, And rumor of the wind. The morning wore A sullen face of fog that lifted slow, Letting her eyes gleam through of grayest glow; Wearing a look like that which once she wore When, Gloucesterward from Dogtown there, they bore Some old witchwife with many a gibe and blow. But now the day has put off every care, And sits at peace beside the smiling sea, Dreaming bright dreams with lazy-lidded eyes: One is a castle, precipiced in air, And one a golden galleon—can it be 'Tis but the cloudworld of the sunset skies?

THE END

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