October 28, 2010

Flash it across the waters!

French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design an official centennial gift to the United States from the people of France. The whole project was completed ten years late; the Statue of Liberty, as it is now called, was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

At the dedication ceremony, a poem was read by Jeremiah Eames Rankin, "The Fairest of Freedom's Daughters":

Night's diadem around thy head,
The world upon thee gazing,
Beneath the eye of heroes dead
Thy queenly form up-raising,
Lift up, lift up thy torch on high,
Fairest of Freedom's daughters!
Flash it against thine own blue sky,
Flash it across the waters!

Stretch up to thine own woman's height,
Thine eye lit with truth's lustre,
As though from God, Himself a-light,
Earth's hopes around thee cluster,
The stars touch with thy forehead fair;
At them thy torch was lighted.
They grope to find where truth's ways are,
The nations long benighted.

Thou hast the van in earth's proud march,
To thee all nations turning;
Thy torch against thine own blue arch,
In answer to their yearning!
Show them the pathway thou hast trod,
The chains which thou hast broken;
Teach them thy trust in man and God,
The watchwords thou hast spoken...

God, home, and country be thy care,
Thou queen of all the ages!
Belting the earth is this one prayer:
Unspotted be thy pages!
Lift up, lift up thy torch on high,
Fairest of Freedom's daughters!
Flash it against thine own blue sky,
Flash it across the waters!

Poet and editor Edmund Clarence Stedman also offered a poem to the Statue of Liberty, published only days later.

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