Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE STAINLESS BANNER, by HERBERT KAUFMAN



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THE STAINLESS BANNER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Down from the highlands and off the far / islands
Last Line: This is the price they shall pay for their crust.
Subject(s): Flags


DOWN from the highlands and off the far islands,
Out of Armenia, Finland and Spain,
Celt and Ionian, Semite, Slavonian
Come to commingle their blood with our strain.
Why, when the Old World begs,
Why should we take her dregs?
Why give them welcome to heart and to vein?

Spawn of the peasant—uncouth and unpleasant
Son of the pauper and child of the thief;
Bred through the ages of dwellers in cages,
Starved of all but starvation and grief—
Why do they grope to us?
Do they bear hope to us?
What would they write us on History's leaf?

Here be a haven, but not for the craven.
Welcome each Builder by brain or by hand.
Thus were the sires who lighted our fires—
God found them worthy and gave them the land.
Far shall we fare with them,
All shall we share with them,
But for our cause must they steadfastly stand.

Brothers, remember to nurture the ember,
Let not the glory of Lexington fade.
Sound on the clarion, honor to Marion
(He who fought starving in morass and glade),
Perry and Scott and Boone,
And what the Texan moon
Saw when the Alamo's score had been paid.

Theirs were the sorrows, and ours are the morrows;
Into our hands have they given in trust
Stainless the banners that heard their hosannas—
Flag that no heel ever trod in the dust.
They who would share its folds
Gladly must bear its folds,
This is the price they shall pay for their crust.





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