Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DAY AFTER THE WAR, by JAMES MADISON BELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DAY AFTER THE WAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twelve score of years were long to wait
Last Line: A part, and help in the distress?
Subject(s): Abolitionists; Brown, John (1800-1859); Emancipation Movement & Proclamation; Slavery; Anti-slavery; Antislavery Movement - United States; Serfs

Twelve score of years were long to wait
A fitting day to celebrate:
'Twere long upon one native's soil
A feeless drudge in pain to toil.
But time that fashions and destroys,
And breeds our sorrows, breeds our joys;
Hence we at length have come with cheer,
To greet the dawning of the year --
The blessed return of that glad day,
When, through Oppression's gloom, a ray
Of joy and hope and freedom, burst,
Dispelling that insatiate thirst
Which anxious years of toil and strife
Had mingled with the bondman's life.

A fitting day for such a deed,
But far more fit when it shall lead
To the final abolition
Of the last slave's sad condition:
Then when the New Year ushers in,
A grand rejoicing shall begin;
Then shall Freedom's clarion tone
Arouse no special class alone,
But all the land its blast shall hear,
And hail with joy the jubilant year;
And maid and matron, youth and age,
Shall meet upon one common stage,
And Proclamation Day shall be
A National Day of Jubilee

No longer 'neath the weight of years--
No longer merged in hopeless fears --
Is now that good time, long delayed,
When right, not might, shall all pervade.
Drive hence despair -- no longer doubt,
Since friends within and foes without
Their might and main conjointly blend
To reach the same great, glorious end --
The sweeping from this favored land
The last foul chain and slavish brand.

No longer need the bondman fear,
For lo! the good time's almost here,
And doubtless some beneath our voice
Shall live to hail it and rejoice;
For almost now the radiant sheen
Of freedom's glad hosts may be seen;
The ear can almost see them bound,
As thirty million voices rise
In grateful paeans to the skies.

But of the present we would sing,
And of a land all bathed in blood --
A land where plumes the eagle's wing,
Whose flaming banner, stars bestud --
A land where Heaven, with bounteous hand,
Rich gifts hath strewn for mortal weal,
Till vale and plain and mountain grand
Have each a treasure to reveal:
A land with every varying clime,
From torrid heat to frigid cold --
With natural scenery more sublime
Than all the world beside unfold,
Where vine-clad France may find a peer,
And Venice an Italian sky,
With streams whereon the gondolier
His feathered oar with joy may ply.
O Heaven-blest and favored land,
Why are thy fruitful fields laid waste?
Why with thy fratricidal hand
Hast thou thy beauty defaced?
Who do the gods disdain thy prayer?
And why in thy deep bitterness
Comes forth no heaven-clothed arm to share
A part, and help in the distress?

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