Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LOOKING DOWNWARDS, by LOUISA SARAH BEVINGTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

LOOKING DOWNWARDS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O the sacred generations
Last Line: And the spirit waxes fast.
Alternate Author Name(s): Leigh, Arbor; Guggenberger, Mrs. Ignatz; Bevington, L. S.
Subject(s): Freedom; Liberty

O the sacred generations
That have lived, and failed, and died!
And for our sakes -- ours -- the freed ones,
Found their liberties denied!
Oh, the helpless half-barbarians
That yet felt the iron sway,
Ere they knew it or could love it
As great Nature's life-ward way!
Shall I take my rights less bravely
For the great ache in my heart,
When I think how these fought for me
Who in victory had no part? --
How they trampled self and senses;
How they forged their own restraints;
How they failed -- defamed -- as "sinners;"
How they failed -- athirst -- as "saints."
How they felt a "Right," yet knew not
Of the eternal How and Why;
And so built a church around them
And a god-throne in the sky.
Oh, ye tortured generations!
Joy, with shame; or fame, with woe;
This the only choice allowed you
Just that we in you might grow --
Just that we might win equipment,
Title -- privilege -- to be;
Ay, eternal life-adjustment
And the right to liberty.
Through the tarnish on the glory
Of the victor's battle plain,
When the famine followed after,
And the widows wept in vain;
Through the later, meaner horrors
Of the subtle sins of trade
And the rents in human nature
That mere luxury has made;
I -- the heir of conscience in me,
And that un-willed sympathy
That cuts all the bands about me
And for ever sets me free.
Free to live and have my being --
Free to choose or deprecate;
Free to keep law or to mend it,
Free to recognise my mate.
Free, by all consent around me;
Free by all consent within;
Free from human rule and precept;
Free from human hurt and sin.
Very gently will I take it,
Very careful will I be,
Lest the crucified and wistful
Miss their chance, in vain, through me.
Ah! so painfully, so slowly,
Has the whole truth loomed in sight
And the spirit opened meekly
In this last day's solemn light.
All the sorry powers of blindness
That have offered lies for truth;
All the darkeners of counsel,
All the smug misguides of youth,
That have mocked and martyred maidens,
That have given stones for bread;
That have bound the wife in wedlock,
Made for her the harlot's bed;
And the Czar of all the Russias,
And the clever Pope of Rome,
Ay, and proper Mrs. Grundy
In John Bullion's gilded home!
These are all upon their trial,
These are foredoomed every one;
For the dawn begins to light them
And they cannot bear the sun.
'Tis the very Day of Judgment;
'Tis the proof-tide of the race!
'Tis the coming of the saviours!
'Tis the triumph-time of grace!
Through the bride-night of the social
Tolls the knell of the depraved;
Died the human generations,
And yet we -- the few -- are saved.
And the last shall soon be foremost,
And the foremost shall be last;
For the Letter's reign is over
And the Spirit waxes fast.

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