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THE PRESENT CRISIS
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
Who cometh over the hills,
Her garments with morning sweet,
Sunshine steals light from her face;
Leaps to the tune of her pace,
Grace at the heart of grace,
Bringer of life out of naught,
The daughters of Time and Thought!
The Present Crisis
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with Truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis pros5 perous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified, And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires; we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.
"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!"
"O Captain! My Captain!"'
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
ut, O heart! heart! heart!
Where on the deck my captain lies,
O captain! my captain! rise up and hear the bells! Rise up! for you the flag is flung, for you the bugle thrills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths, for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
Here, captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still : My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done:
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object
Exult, O shores! and ring, O bells!
My Canary Bird1
Did we count great, O soul, to penetrate the themes of mighty books,
Absorbing deep and full from thoughts, plays, speculations,
But now from thee to me, caged bird, to feel thy joyous warble
Filling the air, the lonesome room, the long forenoon, Is it not just as great, O soul!
1 Written during his later years, when he was confined to his room, unable to move himself without assistance.