God's order, "light!" when all was void and dark
Brought mornless noon, a flame without a spark.
A gift unearned, that none may hold or hide,
An outer glory, not an inner guide;
But flamed no star in heaven to light the soul
And lead the wayward thought toward Freedom's goal.
O wasted ages! Whither have ye led
The breeding masses for their daily bread?
Engendered serfs, across a world of gloom,
The wavelike generations reach the tomb.
Masters and lords, they feared a lord's decree,
Nor freedom knew nor truth to make them free.
But hark! A sound has reached the servile herd!
Strong brows are raised to catch the passing word;
From mouth to mouth a common whisper flies;
A wild fire message burns on lips and eyes;
Far-off and near the kindred tidings throng—
How hopes come true, how heroes challenge wrong;
How men have rights above all law's decrees;
How weak ones rise and sweep the thrones like seas!
Behold! The people listen—question! Then
The inner light has come—the boors are men!
What read ye here—a dreamer's idle rule?
A swelling pedant's lesson for a school?
Nay, here no dreaming, no delusive charts;
But common interests for common hearts;
A truth, a Principle—beneath the sun
One vibrant throb—men's rights and wrongs are one.
One heart's small keyboard touches all the notes;
One weak one's cry distends the million throats;
Nor race nor nation bounds the human kind—
White, yellow, black—one conscience and one mind!
How spread the doctrine? See the teachers fly—
The printed messages across the sky;
From land to land, as never birds could wing;
With songs of promise birds could never sing;
With mighty meanings clearing here and there;
With nations' greetings kings could never share;
With new communions whispering near and far;
With gathering armies bent on peace, not war;
With kindly judges reading righteous laws;
With strength and cheer for every struggling cause.
Roll on, O cylinders of light, and teach
The helpless myriads tongue can never reach.
Make men, not masses: pulp and mud unite—
The single grain of sand reflects the light.
True freedom makes the individual free;
And common law for all makes Liberty!
May 10, 2013
poet living in Boston known for writing occasional pieces. His poem "The Press Evangel" ran in the May 10, 1887 issue: