In the Beginning

By George Sterling

In panoply the nations wait,
    Colossal, throned on many lands;
    Strong to fulfill with mailed hands
The endless purposes of Fate.

To thee, America, the word
    From deeps beyond the spirit's ken,
    In accents all unknown to men
Who, hearing, know not they have heard;

But who, in yearnings nation-deep,
    Strive vastly, as a giant blind;
    And docile to a hidden Mind,
The ways that It hath willed, they keep.

For straightly, in a crimson flood,
    A light hath sought thee from afar,
    Effulgent of a spectral star,
The century-sun that sets in blood.

It crowns thee where the shadows rift,
    And laps the armies and the ships.
    It glimmers where with patient lips,
Awful and dumb, the cannon lift.

And Liberty hath touched to flame
    A star within the nations' skies;
    A fire than beacons far, nor dies;
Or, dying, leaves our night of shame.

But brief for them the Spaniard's rod;
    Beyond our morning and our South,
    They heard the message of her mouth,
Who, seldom speaking, speaks as God.

                          * * *

The Mother girds Her, glad to be
    Where war's long surf of carnage breaks.
    E'en now her mighty breath awakes
The first low thunder of that sea.

Bibliography Entry