Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SATURNALIA, by LEVI BISHOP



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SATURNALIA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The sweetest calm man e'er beheld
Last Line: The union ever one!
Subject(s): Peace; Planets; United States; War; America


The sweetest calm man e'er beheld
Since first creation rose,
We saw, when faction madly yelled
For war's convulsive throes.

Peace, plenty, comfort -- all were here;
We felt no chastening rod;
And yet the dreadful scourge was near,
Of an avenging God.

And States are rocked by agitation,
And threatening clouds appall;
And we must drink, this happy nation,
The wormwood and the gall.

As Saturn madly would devour,
His own dear progeny;
Columbia thus, in frenzy's hour,
Her sons -- the brave, the free.

And blame is here, and blame is there;
Some more, some less to blame;
Yet all the deep distress must share;
If shame, the burning shame.

Our thirty millions one must stand --
United stand or fall;
Once civil war invades the land,
It must envelop all.

Shall we sink down in degradation,
O'erwhelmed with taunts and jeers?
Never! Pour out a full libation,
Of blood and burning tears!

Far sounds the call, loud beats the drum,
The nation's heart rebounds;
The strife -- the crimson strife is come,
The clash of arms resounds.

The spirit of the fathers wakes,
From Independence Hall;
Earth with the crash of battle quakes,
The bravest, noblest fall.

How vast the stake! Ho, ye that would be free,
Now bravely strike for nationality.
An infant late we stood, with hopes and fears,
And then in youth, and then in riper years;
And yet, tho' strong, our strength we did not know,
Till twice we grappled with the parent foe.
And still another test; that strength to show
In foreign land, we strike at Mexico.
Nor yet, with all had we the trial had
Of rupture, treason, half the nation mad.
But we have tried this fiery test at last;
Headlong we went, in boiling caldron cast.
Mountains on foes in Heaven's war were hurled,
So States on States in this our lower world.
The nation reeling, to and fro, we see,
And tremble oft for nationality.
But sure, at length, to cheer the patriot's eyes,
Behold her proud proportions pierce the skies!
The strife was gloomy, terrible and drear;
The storm once past, serener skies appear.

We calmly now may count the cost,
And what is gained, and what is lost.

What though our men in arms were millions!
With thousands upon thousands slain;
What though the cost we count in billions!
The heavy loss may yet be gain.

Our prowess, now, no mere suggestion,
Or hint, or boast, to be denied;
Come, world in arms! and test the question,
The fiercest storm we have defied.

On thousand battle plains, and gory,
Have freemen bravely fought and fell,
'Tis mournful, but they tell the story,
And who but says they tell it well!

And now the fearful shock is o'er;
The land that bled at every pore,
Again with peace is blest;
Though myriads fell amid the gloom.
They quiet fill the honored tomb;
Oh, peaceful may they rest!

The arch of triumph, let it rise:
Mount up, proud column, to the skies;
Their deeds commemorate!
Forget them! No, eternal shame!
Blaze forth their each and every name;
Their fame perpetuate!

And freedom has outlived the storm,
In fearless spirit and in form;
Though sacrilegious hands,
Have dared to touch its sacred shrine,
Not fearing man or wrath divine:
The Constitution stands.

And could it in the deadly strife,
Like Eden's flaming sword of life,
Defend each vital part?
Preventing each and every blow,
If aimed, or by a friend or foe,
From reaching to the heart?

It could; it did; it ever can,
Defy the wrath and power of man,
Their worst to hate or do:
Note, who despotic scepters sway;
Freedom shall live and rule the day,
If wise, and brave, and true.

Nor from those dark and angry waves,
In mockery of those patriot graves,
Has despot rose to power:
The storm abates and leaves us free;
We still may boast our liberty,
In this the peaceful hour.

Note, despots of the earth, again:
Behold those armies on the plain --
See how they strike and die!
But let them once unite their blows,
And hurl them upon foreign foes;
Such foes shall quickly fly.

Our wish, our policy is peace,
That this good land may yet increase --
This land so broad and fair;
Our friendship ever true shall be,
But terrible our enmity;
Then rouse it ye who dare.

The Union stands, above domestic foes;
It pales not, snaps not, from domestic throes;
It stands as firm as ever:
The bold -- the wild fanatic shakes it not;
Determined -- fiery southron breaks it not;
It shakes, it breaks, no never.

Then let us gather round the fallen brave,
And cast our garlands on his hallowed grave;
Let incense there arise!
And, as we chant aloud the victor strain,
That all may hear -- and earth, and rolling main,
And those above the skies; --

Let's swear, by help of Him whom we adore:
This Union -- from the ocean shore to shore,
From pole to tropic sun --
This mighty Union of the States shall last,
Till worlds on worlds are into ruin cast:
THE UNION EVER ONE!





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