His country seared its conscience through its gain,
And had not wisdom to behold its loss,
It held God partner in the hellish stain,
And saw Christ dying on a racial cross.
What unto it the shackled fellowman,
Whose plea was mockery, and whose groans were mirth?
Its boasted creed was: “he should rule who can
Make prey of highest heaven and dupe of earth.”
From out this mass of century-tutored wrong
A man stood God-like and his voice rang true.
His soul was sentry to the dallying throng,
His thought was watchword to the gallant few.
He saw not as his fellow beings saw;
He would not misname greed expediency.
He found no color in the nation’s law,
And scorned to meet it in it liberty.
He saw his duty in his neighbor’s cause,
And died that he might rise up strong and free-
A creature subject to the highest laws
And master of a God-like destiny.
The thunder of a million armed feet,
Reverberating ’till the land was stirred,
Was but the tension of his great heart-beat,
The distant echo of his spoken word.
He speaks again: “Such as would miss the rod
That ever chastens insufficiency,
Must purge their lives and make them fit for God,
Must train their liberty and make it free…”
Joseph Seamon Cotter