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As we forget thou hast not always been, Mother of States and unpolluted men, Virginia, fitly named from England's manly queen!





ENTRANCED I saw a vision in the cloud That loitered dreaming in yon sunset sky, Full of fair shapes, half creatures of the


Half chance-evoked by the wind's fantasy
In golden mist, an ever-shifting crowd:
There, 'mid unreal forms that came and

In air-spun robes, of evanescent dye,
A woman's semblance shone preeminent;
Not armed like Pallas, not like Hera proud,
But, as on household diligence intent,
Beside her visionary wheel she bent
Like Aretë or Bertha, nor than they
Less queenly in her port: about her knee
Glad children clustered confident in play:
Placid her pose, the calm of energy;
And over her broad brow in many a round
(That loosened would have gilt her gar-
ment's hem),

Succinct, as toil prescribes, the hair was wound

In lustrous coils, a natural diadem.

The cloud changed shape, obsequious to the


Of some transmuting influence felt in me, And, looking now, a wolf I seemed to see Limned in that vapor, gaunt and hungerbold,

Threatening her charge: resolve in every limb,

Erect she flamed in mail of sun-wove gold,
Penthesilea's self for battle dight;
One arm uplifted braced a flickering spear,
And one her adamantine shield made light;
Her face, helm-shadowed, grew a thing to

And her fierce eyes, by danger challenged,


Her trident - sceptred mother's dauntless


"I know thee now, O goddess-born!" I cried,

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Seven years long was the bow
Of battle bent, and the heightening
Storm-heaps convulsed with the throe
Of their uncontainable lightning;
Seven years long heard the sea

Crash of navies and wave-borne thunder;
Then drifted the cloud-rack a-lee,

And new stars were seen, a world's wonder;

Each by her sisters made bright,
All binding all to their stations,
Cluster of manifold light
Startling the old constellations:
Men looked up and grew pale:
Was it a comet or star,
Omen of blessing or bale,
Hung o'er the ocean afar?


Stormy the day of her birth: Was she not born of the strong, She, the last ripeness of earth,

Beautiful, prophesied long?
Stormy the days of her prime:
Hers are the pulses that beat
Higher for perils sublime,
Making them fawn at her feet.
Was she not born of the strong?
Was she not born of the wise?
Daring and counsel belong
Of right to her confident eyes:
Human and motherly they,
Careless of station or race:
Hearken! her children to-day
Shout for the joy of her face.



No praises of the past are hers,
No fanes by hallowing time caressed,
No broken arch that ministers

To Time's sad instinct in the breast:
She has not gathered from the years
Grandeur of tragedies and tears,
Nor from long leisure the unrest
That finds repose in forms of classic grace:
These may delight the coming race
Who haply shall not count it to our crime
That we who fain would sing are here
before our time.

She also hath her monuments;
Not such as stand decrepitly resigned
To ruin-mark the path of dead events
That left no seed of better days behind,
The tourist's pensioners that show their


And maunder of forgotten wars;

She builds not on the ground, but in the mind,

Her open-hearted palaces

For larger-thoughted men with heaven and earth at ease:

Her march the plump mow marks, the sleepless wheel,

The golden sheaf, the self-swayed commonweal;

The happy homesteads hid in orchard trees

Whose sacrificial smokes through peaceful air

Rise lost in heaven, the household's silent prayer;

What architect hath bettered these?
With softened eye the westward traveller


A thousand miles of neighbors side by side,

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In fame, and born beneath a milder star), That to Earth's orphans, far as curves the dome

Of death-deaf sky, the bounteous West means home,

With dear precedency of natural ties
That stretch from roof to roof and make
men gently wise?

And if the nobler passions wane,
Distorted to base use, if the near goal
Of insubstantial gain

Tempt from the proper race-course of the soul

That crowns their patient breath
Whose feet, song-sandalled, are too fleet
for Death,

Yet may she claim one privilege urbane
And haply first upon the civic roll,
That none can breathe her air nor grow

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Poets, as their heads grow gray,
Look from too far behind the eyes,
Too long-experienced to be wise
In guileless youth's diviner way;
Life sings not now, but prophesies;
Time's shadows they no more behold,
But, under them, the riddle old
That mocks, bewilders, and defies:
In childhood's face the seed of shame,
In the green tree an ambushed flame,
In Phosphor a vaunt-guard of Night,
They, though against their will, divine,
And dread the care-dispelling wine
Stored from the Muse's vintage bright,
By age imbued with second-sight.
From Faith's own eyelids there peeps out,
Even as they look, the leer of doubt;
The festal wreath their fancy loads

With care that whispers and forebodes: Nor this our triumph-day can blunt Megæra's goads.


Murmur of many voices in the air
Denounces us degenerate,

Unfaithful guardians of a noble fate,
And prompts indifference or despair:
Is this the country that we dreamed in

Where wisdom and not numbers should have weight,

Seed-field of simpler manners, braver truth,
Where shams should cease to dominate
In household, church, and state?

Is this Atlantis? This the unpoisoned soil,
Sea-whelmed for ages and recovered late,
Where parasitic greed no more should coil
Round Freedom's stem to bend awry and

What grew so fair, sole plant of love and light?

Who sit where once in crowned seclusion sate
The long-proved athletes of debate
Trained from their youth, as none thinks
needful now?

Is this debating club where boys dispute,
And wrangle o'er their stolen fruit,
The Senate, erewhile cloister of the few,
Where Clay once flashed and Webster's
cloudy brow

Brooded those bolts of thought that all the horizon knew?

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Of years had won me this unwelcome right To see things as they are, or shall be soon, In the frank prose of undissembling noon!

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The golden age is still the age that 's past: Of ancient wisdom channelled deep in law, I ask no drowsy opiate

To dull my vision of that only state Founded on faith in man, and therefore

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The undaunted few

Who changed the Old World for the New, And more devoutly prized

Than all perfection theorized

The more imperfect that had roots and grew.

They founded deep and well,

Those danger-chosen chiefs of men

Who still believed in Heaven and Hell,
Nor hoped to find a spell,

In some fine flourish of a pen,

To make a better man

Than long-considering Nature will or can,
Secure against his own mistakes,
Content with what life gives or takes,

And acting still on some fore-ordered plan,
A cog of iron in an iron wheel,

Too nicely poised to think or feel,

Dumb motor in a clock-like commonweal.
They wasted not their brain in schemes
Of what man might be in some bubble-

As if he must be other than he seems Because he was not what he should be here,

Postponing Time's slow proof to petulant dreams:

Yet herein they were great

Beyond the incredulous lawgivers of yore, And wiser than the wisdom of the shelf, That they conceived a deeper-rooted state, Of hardier growth, alive from rind to core, By making man sole sponsor of himself.


God of our fathers, Thou who wast, Art, and shalt be when those eye-wise who flout

Thy secret presence shall be lost

In the great light that dazzles them to doubt,

We, sprung from loins of stalwart men
Whose strength was in their trust

That Thou wouldst make thy dwelling in

their dust

And walk with those a fellow-citizen
Who build a city of the just,

We, who believe Life's bases rest
Beyond the probe of chemic test,
Still, like our fathers, feel Thee near,

They steered by stars the elder shipmen Sure that, while lasts the immutable de


And laid their courses where the currents



The land to Human Nature dear

Shall not be unbeloved of Thee.


THIS title was given to the volume of poems collected and published in 1888 after Lowell's return to private life. He took occasion to




Dicesti egli ebbe non viv' egli ancora? Non fiere gli occhi suoi lo dolce lome?



Lowell was in Florence when Agassiz died, and sent this poem home to Mr. Norton for "His death," he says, publication. home to me in a singular way, growing into my consciousness from day to day as if it were a graft new-set, that by degrees became part of my own wood and drew a greater share of my sap than belonged to it, as grafts sometimes will. I suppose that, unconsciously to myself, a great part of the ferment it produced in me was owing to the deaths of my sister Anna [Mrs. Charles R. Lowell], of Mrs., whom I knew as a child in my early manhood, and of my cousin Amory, who was inextricably bound up with the primal associations of my life, associations which always have a singular sweetness for me. A very deep chord had been touched also at Florence by the sight of our old lodgings in the Casa Guidi, of the balcony Mabel used to run on, and the windows we used to look out at so long ago. I got sometimes into the mood I used to be in when I was always repeating to myself,

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verses which seem to me desolately pathetic. At last I began to hum over bits of my poem in my head till it took complete possession of me and worked me up to a delicious state of excitement, all the more delicious as my brain (or at any rate the musical part of it) had been lying dormant so long. My old trick of seeing things with my eyes shut after I had gone to bed (I mean whimsical things utterly alien to the train of my thoughts- for example, a hospital ward with a long row of white, untenanted beds, and on the farthest a pile of those little wooden dolls with redpainted slippers) revived in full force. Nervous, horribly nervous, but happy for the first time (I mean consciously happy) since I

glean after his earlier harvest and preserved in it several poems written before the publication of Under the Willows.

came over here. And so by degrees my poem worked itself out. The parts came to me as I came awake, and I wrote them down in the morning. I had all my bricks - but the mortar would n't set, as the masons say. However, I got it into order at last. You will see there is a logical sequence if you look sharp. It was curious to me after it was done to see how fleshly it was. This impression of Agassiz had wormed itself into my consciousness, and without my knowing it had colored my whole poem. I could not help feeling how, if I had been writing of Emerson, for example, I should have been quite otherwise ideal. But there it is, and you can judge for yourself. I think there is some go in it somehow, but it is too near me yet to be judged fairly by me. It is old-fashioned, you see, but none the worse for that." The poem was dated February, 1874.

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