Happy Birthday America!
Earlier this week I was reading a couple of different books of poetry. One is titled Committed To Memory and the other is a volume of American poetry. In the first book is a poem all Americans have heard and most remember a line or two from it, though I doubt most remember the name of the poet who wrote it. It’s still as moving today as it was back when it was put on Lady Liberty’s pedestal. It’s The New Colossus written by Emma Lazarus. In the second book there are quite a number of patriotic poems and some names of poets that surprised me. How many of you know that John Quincy Adams wrote poetry? I didn’t. And I loved the two that were included in this volume. One poem that was included in its entirety is our very own Star Spangled Banner which is actually called Defense of Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key. How many Americans are aware that it is four stanzas long? It’s a wonderful poem to read. But the poem that struck me and brought tears to my eyes is one titled America to Great Britain written by Washington Allston. So, I thought I’d include both The New Colossus and America to Great Britain on today’s post and make it today’s feature. America was born at the cost of both British and American lives, and I find it very fitting to include British peoples in our celebrations today, especially as the colonists did not even consider themselves Americans until after the Revolution.
America has long been considered the home of all those who find themselves persecuted, whose freedoms have been taken away, and who have no one to protect their rights. So, today’s celebrations should include all the peoples in all the countries who have families and loved ones here. There is no one country that is the greatest in the world. They all have their problems. They all have their faults. But any country where you can practice the religion you want, any country where you can think for yourself, say what you want to say, buy and eat and read and write whatever you want, any country where you can wake up in the morning without the fear of a bomb going off outside…well, to me, that country is a good country to live in.
Happy 4th of July everyone!
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
America to Great Britain
All hail, thou noble land,
Our Fathers’ native soil!
O, stretch thy mighty hand,
Gigantic grown by toil,
O’er the vast Atlantic wave to our shore!
For thou with magic might
Canst reach to where the light
Of Phoebus travels bright
The world o’er!
The Genius of our clime
From his pine-embattled steep
Shall hail the guest sublime;
While the Tritons of the deep
With their conchs the kindred league shall proclaim.
Then let the world combine,
O’er the main our naval line
Like the Milky-Way shall shine
Bright in fame!
Though ages long have past
Since our Fathers left their home,
Their pilot in the blast.
O’er untravelled seas to roam,
Yet lives the blood of England in our veins!
And shall we not proclaim
That blood of honest fame
Which no tyranny can tame
By its chains?
While the language free and bold
Which the bard of Avon sung,
In which our Milton told
How the vault of Heaven rung
When Satan, blasted, fell with his host;
While this, with reverence meet.
Ten thousand echoes greet,
From rock to rock repeat
Round our coast;
While the manners, while the arts,
That mould a nation’s soul.
Still cling around our hearts,—
Between let Ocean roll,
Our joint communion breaking with the Sun:
Yet still from either beach
The voice of blood shall reach,
More audible than speech,
“We are One.”