Frances E.W. Harper, "The Present Age" (1896)
I think it brave and grand;
When men of diverse sects and creeds
Are clasping hand in hand.
The Parsee from his sacred fires
Beside the Christian kneels;
And clearer light to Islam's eyes
The word of Christ reveals.
The Brahmin from his distant home
Brings thoughts of ancient lore;
The Bhuddist breaking bonds of caste
Divides mankind no more.
The meek-eyed sons of far Cathay
Are welcome round the board;
Not greed, nor malice drives away
These children of our Lord.
And Judah from whose trusted hands
Came oracles divine;
Now sits with those around whose hearts
The light of God doth shine.
Japan unbars her long sealed gates
From islands far away;
Her sons are lifting up their eyes
To greet the coming day.
The Indian child from forests wild
Has learned to read and pray;
The tomahawk and scalping knife
From him have passed away.
From centuries of servile toil
The Negro finds release,
And builds the fanes of prayer and praise
Unto the God of Peace.
England and Russia face to face
With Central Asia meet;
And on the far Pacific coast,
Chinese and natives greet.
Crusaders once with sword and shield
The Holy Land to save;
From Moslem hands did strive to clutch
The dear Redeemer's grave.
A battle greater, grander far
Is for the present age;
A crusade for the rights of man
To brighten history's page.
Where labor faints and bows her head,
And want consorts with crime;
Or men grown faithless sadly say
That evil is the time.
There is the field, the vantage ground
For every earnest heart;
To side with justice, truth and right
And act a noble part.
To save from ignorance and vice
The poorest, humblest child;
To make our age the fairest one
On which the sun has smiled;
To plant the roots of coming years
In mercy, love and truth;
And bid our weary, saddened earth
Again renew her youth.
Oh! earnest hearts! toil on in hope,
'Till darkness shrinks from light;
To fill the earth with peace and joy,
Let youth and age unite:
To stay the floods of sin and shame
That sweep from shore to shore;
And furl the banners stained with blood,
'Till war shall be no more.
Blame not the age, nor think it full
Of evil and unrest;
But say of every other age,
"This one shall be the best."
The age to brighten every path
By sin and sorrow trod;
For loving hearts to usher in
The commonwealth of God.