October 30, 2010

Stedman: Let there be light!

Honoring the dedication of the Statue of Liberty only days earlier, the October 30, 1886 issue of Harper's Weekly included the above illustration by Harry Fenn. It also included a poem by Connecticut-born poet, critic, essayist, and promoter of international copyright Edmund Clarence Stedman. The poem carries the title "Liberty Enlightening the World":

..."My name is Liberty!
   From out a mighty land
I face the ancient sea,
   I lift to God my hand;
By day in Heaven's light,
A pillar of fire by night,
   At ocean's gate I stand
      Nor bend the knee.

"The dark Earth lay in sleep,
   Her children crouched forlorn,
Ere on the western steep
   I sprang to height, reborn:
Then what a joyous shout
The quickened lands gave out,
   And all the choir of morn
      Sang anthems deep.

"Beneath yon firmament,
   The New World to the Old
My sword and summons sent,
   My azure flag unrolled:
The Old World's hands renew
Their strength; the form ye view
   Came from a living mould
      In glory blent.

"O ye, whose broken spars
   Tell of the storms ye met,
Enter! fear not the bars
   Across your pathway set;
Enter at Freedom's porch,
For you I lift my torch,
   For you my coronet
      Is rayed with stars..."

O wonderful and bright,
   Immortal Freedom, hail!
Front, in thy fiery might,
   The midnight and the gale;
Undaunted on this base
Guard well thy dwelling-place:
   Till the last sun grow pale
      Let there be light!

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