East and West Poems

California’s Greeting to Seward


Bret Harte

WE KNOW him well: no need of praise
    Or bonfire from the windy hill
To light to softer paths and ways
    The world-worn man we honor still.

No need to quote the truths he spoke
    That burned through years of war and shame,
While History carves with surer stroke
    Across our map his noonday fame.

No need to bid him show the scars
    Of blows dealt by the Scaean gate,
Who lived to pass its shattered bars,
    And see the foe capitulate:

Who lived to turn his slower feet
    Toward the western setting sun,
To see his harvest all complete,
    His dream fulfilled, his duty done,—

The one flag streaming from the pole,
    The one faith borne from sea to sea,—
For such a triumph, and such goal,
    Poor must our human greeting be.

Ah! rather that the conscious land
    In simpler ways salute the Man,—
The tall pines bowing where they stand,
    The bared head of El Capitan!

The tumult of the waterfalls,
    Pohono’s kerchief in the breeze,
The waving from the rocky walls,
    The stir and rustle of the trees;

Till, lapped in sunset skies of hope,
    In sunset lands by sunset seas,
The Young World’s Premier treads the slope
    Of sunset years in calm and peace.

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