Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PRESIDIO HILL, by JOHN VANCE CHENEY



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PRESIDIO HILL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sabre and cross on this historic crown
Last Line: On old presidio hill.
Subject(s): Mountains; Nature - Religious Aspects; San Francisco; Hills; Downs (Great Britain)


SABRE and cross on this historic crown
Began the conquest of our Western sward,
Advancing, while they builded fort and town,
The Kingdom of the Lord.

The whale calved, then, in San Diego Bay,
And in the kelp beds off the Loman shore,
The otter bred. Tales of that deedful day
Leap to men's lips no more;

But yonder pair, the Parent Palms, oft tell
Two things, as of them all their dreams were made:
How first rang out the branch-swung Mission bell,
How Padre Serra prayed.

The while they speak, the old winds softer blow
Past palsied Old Town, drowsing in the sun,
Breathing some pertinent burden,—"Long ago
The padre's work was done!"

Come whence we may, memorial murmurs find
The heart of us who on these grasses tread;
'Tis benediction, not the warm sea-wind,
The breath on the bowed head,

First felt here when pale Serra bowed, his lip
Quivering with victory, in the Master's name,
As, with the sight of trust, he saw the ship
Far in the sun's low flame,

And the Lord's gate was safe. This mother hill,
Under clear skies, beside the Peaceful Sea,
Her voices all, when winds are loud or still,
Are sweet with memory.

At this dark hour—scarce voice enough to tell
Whether it be of silence or of sound—
The day is saying once again, "Farewell,
God's unforgotten ground!"

The trusting toil, the courage of it all!
The votive grasses tremble and grow still:
The heavens are bending low—'tis evenfall
On old Presidio Hill.





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