Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE THANKSGIVING FOR AMERICA, by HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH



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THE THANKSGIVING FOR AMERICA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twas night upon the darro
Last Line: The happy nightingales.
Subject(s): Columbus, Christopher (1451-1506); Explorers; Exploring; Discovery; Discoverers


I

'TWAS night upon the Darro.
The risen moon above the silvery tower
Of Comares shone, the silver sun of night,
And poured its lustrous splendors through the halls
Of the Alhambra.
The air was breathless,
Yet filled with ceaseless songs of nightingales,
And odors sweet of falling orange blooms;
The misty lamps were burning odorous oil;
The uncurtained balconies were full of life,
And laugh and song, and airy castanets
And gay guitars.
Afar Sierras rose,
Domes, towers, and pinnacles, over royal heights,
Whose crowns were gemmed with stars.
The Generaliffe,
The summer palace of old Moorish kings
In vanished years, stood sentinel afar,
A pile of shade, as brighter grew the moon,
Impearling fountain sprays, and shimmering
On seas of citron orchards cool and green,
And terraces embowered with vernal vines
And breathing flowers.
In shadowy arcades
Were loitering priests, and here and there
A water-carrier passed with tinkling bells.
There came a peal of horns
That woke Granada, city of delights,
From its long moonlight reverie. Again: --
The suave lute ceased to play, the castanet;
The water-bearer stopped. and ceased his song
The wandering troubadour.
Then rent the air
Another joyous peal, and oped the gates
And entered there a train of cavaliers,
Their helmets glittering in the low red moon.
The streets and balconies
All danced with wondering life. The train moved on,
And filled the air again the horns melodious,
And loud the heralds shouted: --

"Thy name, O Fernando, through all earth shall be sounded,
Columbus has triumphed, his foes are confounded!"

A silence followed.
Could such tidings be? Men heard and whispered,
Eyes glanced to eyes, feet uncertain moved,
Never on mortal ears had fallen words
Like these. And was the earth a star?
On marched the cavaliers,
And pealed again the horns, and again cried
The heralds: --

"Thy name, Isabella, through all earth shall be sounded,
Columbus has triumphed, his foes are confounded!"

All hearts were thrilled.
"Isabella!" That name breathed faith and hope
And lofty aim. Emotion swayed the crowds;
Tears flowed, and acclamations rose, and rushed
The wondering multitudes toward the plaza.
"Isabella! Isabella!" it filled
The air -- that one word "Isabella!"
And now
'T is noon of night. The moon hangs near the earth --
A golden moon in golden air; the peaks
Like silver tents of shadowy sentinels
Glint 'gainst the sky. The plaza gleams and surges
Like a sea. The joyful horns peal forth again,
And falls a hush, and cry the heralds: --
"Thy name, Isabella, shall be praised by all the living;
Haste, haste to Barcelona, and join the Great Thanksgiving!"

What nights had seen Granada!
Yet never one like this! The moon went down
And fell the wings of shadow, yet the streets
Still swarmed with people hurrying on and on.

II

Morn came,
With bursts of nightingales and quivering fires.
The cavaliers rode forth toward barcelona.
The city followed, throbbing with delight.
The happy troubadour, the muleteer,
The craftsmen all, the boy and girl, and e'en
The mother -- 't was a soft spring morn;
The fairest skies of earth those April morns
In Andalusia. Long was the journey,
But the land was flowers and the nights were not,
And birds sang all the hours, and breezes cool
Fanned all the ways along the sea.
The roads were filled
With hurrying multitudes. For well 't was known
That he, the conqueror, viceroy of the isles,
Was riding from Seville to meet the king.
And what were conquerors before to him whose eye
Had seen the world a star, and found the star a world?
Once he had walked
The self-same ways, roofless and poor and sad,
A beggar at old convent doors, and heard
The very children jeer him in the streets,
And ate his crust and made his roofless bed
Upon the flowers beside his boy, and prayed,
And found in trust a pillow radiant
With dreams immortal. Now?

III

That was a glorious day
That dawned on Barcelona. Banners filled
The thronging towers, the old bells rung, and blasts
Of lordly trumpets seemed to reach the sky
Cerulean. All Spain had gathered there,
And waited there his coming; Castilian knights,
Gay cavaliers, hidalgos young, and e'en the old
Puissant grandees of far Aragon,
With glittering mail, and waving plumes, and all
The peasant multitude with bannerets
And charms and flowers.
Beneath pavilions
Of brocades of gold, the Court had met.
The dual crowns of Leon old and proud Castile
There waited him, the peasant mariner.
The trumpets waited
Near the open gates; the minstrels young and fair
Upon the tapestried and arrased walls,
And everywhere from all the happy provinces
The wandering troubadours.
Afar was heard
A cry, a long acclaim. Afar was seen
A proud and stately steed with nodding plumes,
Bridled with gold, whose rider stately rode,
And still afar a long and sinuous train
Of silvery cavaliers. A shout arose,
And all the city, all the vales and hills,
With silver trumpets rung.
He came, the Genoese,
With reverent look and calm and lofty mien,
And saw the wondering eyes and heard the cries
And trumpet peals, as one who followed still
Some Guide unseen.
Before his steed
Crowned Indians marched with lowly faces,
And wondered at the new world that they saw;
Gay parrots shouted from their gold-bound arms,
And from their crests swept airy plumes.
The sun
Shone full in splendor on the scene, and here
The old and new world met. But --

IV

Hark! the heralds!
How they thrill all hearts and fill all eyes with tears!
The very air seems throbbing with delight;
Hark! hark! they cry, in chorus all they cry: --

"A Castilla y a Leon, a Castilla y a Leon,
Nuevo mundo dio Colon!"

Every heart now beats with his,
The stately rider on whose calm face shines
A heaven-born inspiration. Still the shout:
"Nuevo mundo dio Colon!" how it rings!
From wall to wall, from knights and cavaliers,
And from the multitudinous throngs,
A mighty chorus of the vales and hills!
"A Castilla y a Leon!"
And now the golden steed
Draws near the throne; the crowds move back, and rise
The reverent crowns of Leon and Castile;
And stands before the tear-filled eyes of all
The multitudes the form of Isabella.
Semiramis? Zenobia? What were they
To her, as met her eyes again the eyes of him
Into whose hands her love a year before
Emptied its jewels!
He told his tale:
The untried deep, the green Sargasso Sea,
The varying compass, the affrighted crews,
The hymn they sung on every doubtful eve,
The sweet hymn to the Virgin. How there came
The land birds singing, and the drifting weeds,
How broke the morn on fair San Salvador,
How the Te Deum on that isle was sung,
And how the cross was lifted in the name
Of Leon and Castile. And then he turned
His face towards Heaven, "O Queen! O Queen!
There kingdoms wait the triumphs of the cross!"

Then Isabella rose,
With face illumined: then overcome with joy
She sank upon her knees, and king and court
And nobles rose and knelt beside her,
And followed them the sobbing multitude;
Then came a burst of joy, a chorus grand,
And mighty antiphon --

"We praise thee, Lord, and, Lord, acknowledge thee,
And give thee glory! -- Holy, Holy, Holy!"

Loud and long it swelled and thrilled the air,
That first Thanksgiving for the new-found world!

VI

The twilight roses bloomed
In the far skies o'er Barcelona.
The gentle Indians came and stood before
The throne, and smiled the queen, and said:
"I see my gems again." The shadow fell,
And trilled all night beneath the moon and stars
The happy nightingales.





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