“Atlanta Exposition Ode” by Mary Weston Fordham (1862? – 1905)

“Atlanta Exposition Ode”

‘Cast down your bucket where you are,’
From burning sands or Polar star
From where the iceberg rears its head
Or where the kingly palms outspread;
‘Mid blackened fields or golden sheaves,
Or foliage green, or autumn leaves,
Come sounds of warning from afar,
‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’

What doth it matter if thy years
Have slowly dragged ‘mid sighs and tears?
What doth it matter, since thy day
Is brightened now by hope’s bright ray.

The morning star will surely rise,
And Ethiop’s sons with longing eyes
And outstretched hands, will bless the day,
When old things shall have passed away.

Come, comrades, from the East, the West!
Come, bridge the chasm. It is best.
Come, warm hearts of the sunny South,
And clasp hands with the mighty North.
Rise Afric’s sons and chant with joy,
Good will to all without alloy;
The night of grief has passed away-
On Orient gleams a brighter day.

Say, ye that wore the blue, how sweet
That thus in sympathy we meet,
Our brothers who the gray did love
And martyrs to their cause did prove.
Say, once for all and once again,
That blood no more shall flow in vain;
Say Peace shall brood o’er this fair land
And hearts, for aye, be joined with hand.

Hail! Watchman, from thy lofty height;
Tell us, O tell us of the night?
Will Bethlehem’s Star ere long arise
And point this nation to the skies?
Will pæans ring from land and sea
Fraught with untrammelled liberty
Till Time’s appointed course be run,
And Earth’s millenium be begun?

‘Cast down your bucket,’ let it be
As water flows both full and free!
Let charity, that twice blest boon
Thy watchword be from night to morn.
Let kindness as the dew distil
To friend and foe, alike, good will;
Till sounds the wondrous battle-call,
For all one flag, one flag for all.

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