America (excerpt)

America I love, as one that loves
A friendly shelter, when he houseless roves:
America is mine, if she'll receive
The humble name I all ingenious give.
America I view, as one that views
A noble lion wet with spangled dews:
But, as he rises from his morning lair,
A gilded serpent curls around him there—
I see a giant, like Delilah's, bound
With silken cords, his locks still flowing round;
I see the sun stained on his golden shield,
The silver moon shows a discolored field;
Yet why should one of all thy rivers bear
To ocean's salty waves the captive's tear?
Why in thy rich savannahs, evergreen,
Around a human form are fetters seen,
Hast thou not wealth and power to burst the chain,
To cast the captive's fetters in the main:
And purchase thee a diadem more bright
Than blazing Phoebus or the queen of night.
Let not earth's despots point across the wave,
And say my song of freedom mocks the slave;
And when the chaunt of liberty goes by
Let no sad captive with a groan reply,
Thus Herbert sung by Mississippi's side,
And tun'd his numbers to the silver tide
Above where red Missouri rolls along
His turbid current, burst this artless song.
The waters listened and around his feet
Rolled crimson agates for a tribute meet;
Green islands seemed uplifted from the wave
To not applause; the winds forgot to rave:
Glad spirits rustled round his lov'd one's tomb,
And from her dust bright lilies seemed to bloom.
Philip Bevan [1811-1890]