To the Goddess Liberty

By George Sterling

(New York Harbor)

Oh! is it bale-fire in thy brazen hand—
The traitor-light set on betraying coasts
To lure to doom the mariner? Art thou
Indeed that Freedom, gracious and supreme,
By France once sighted over seas of blood—
A beacon to the ages, and their hope,
A star against the midnight of the race,
A vision, an announcement? Art thou she
For whom our fathers fought at Lexington
And trod the ways of death at Gettysburg?
Thy torch is lit, thy steadfast hand upheld,
Before our ocean-portals. For a sign
Men set thee there to welcome—loving men,
With faith in man. Thou wast upraised to tell,
To simple souls that seek from over-seas
Our rumored liberty, that here no chains
Are on the people, here no kings can stand,
Nor the old tyranny confound mankind,
Sapping with craft the ramparts of the Law
For such, O high presentment of their dream!
Thy pathless sandals wait upon the stone,
Thy tranquil face looks evermore to sea:
Now turn, and know the treason at thy back!
Turn to the anarchs' turrets, and behold
The cunning ones that reap where others sow!

In those great strongholds lifted to the sun
They plot dominion. Thronèd greeds conspire,
Half allied in a brotherhood malign,
Against the throneless many....

Would One might pour within thy breast of bronze
Spirit and life! Then should thy loyal hand
Cast down its torch, and thy deep voice should cry:
"Turn back! Turn back, O liberative ships!
Be warned, ye voyagers! From tyranny
To vaster tyranny ye come! Ye come
From realms that in my morning twilight wait
My radiant invasion. But these shores
Have known me and renounced me. I am raised
In mockery, and here the forfeit day
Deepens to West, and my indignant Star
Would hide her shame with darkness and the sea—
A sun of doom forecasting on the Land
The shadow of the sceptre and the sword."

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