The Spirit of the Nation/Steady


"Courage—your most necessary virtue—consists not in blind resistance, but in knowing when to forbear."—The Nation, June 17.

Steady! Host of Freeedom, steady!
Ponder, gather, watch, mature;
Tranquil be, though ever ready—
Prompt to act—and to endure.

Aimless, rage you not, insanely,
Like a maniac with his chain,
Struggling madly, therefore vainly,
And lapsing back to bonds again.

But, observe, the clouds o'er Keeper
Long collect their awful ire—
Long they swell more dark and deeper;
When they burst, all heaven's on fire.

Freedom's barque to port is running,
But beware the lurking shelves;
And would you conquer tyrants' cunning,
Brethren, conquer first yourselves.

Though thy cheek insulted burn—
Though they call thee coward-slave—
Scoff nor blow shalt thou return:
Trust me, this is more than brave.

Fortitude hath shackles riven,
More than spear or flashing gun;
Freedom, like the thrones of heaven,
Is by suff'ring virtue won.

Though thy brother still deride thee,
Yield thou love for foolish hate:
He'll, perhaps, ere long, beside thee,
Proudly, boldly, share thy fate.

Discord! may kind angels chase thee
Far from hapless Erin's shores,
And the deepest hell embrace thee,
Where no fouler demon roars!

Steady! steady! ranks of Freedom,
Pure and holy are our bands;
Heaven approves, and angels lead them,
For truth and justice are our brands!