Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American Women Writers 1900-1922

Old Ironsides!

(Formerly the estate of Commodore Stewart, commander of vessel of the same name, and famous in the Civil War; now a school for the training of Colored Youth)
Old Ironsides! Historic spot so fair,
Whose generous-spreading acres beckon, where
In silent beauty sweeps the Delaware,
I love you!
High on your bluff commanding
I looked afar,
And saw in retrospect the place where war
Dark, grim and terrible
Forced Washington and his brave men
Barefoot across the icy flood,
Fighting for independence!
'Twas liberty for which they fought--
Relief from tyranny they sought--
These heroes whom I sing.
Around this hallowed spot there cling,
E'en yet soul-stirring memories,
Of those who walked your paths!
Have not these groves re-echoed to the cry
"Before we bend to tyrants, we will die!"
Brave souls who wrought ofttimes perchance in pain,
Yet not one agony endured in vain!
Time has destroyed "The Mansion" utterly,
And here the walk has crumbled to decay;
Upon that knoll, rank grows the shrubbery,
And if one glances yonder, there one sees
The avenue of old wild-cherry trees--
Dim vestiges of former glory!
Now gone are those who labored, hoped and loved;
Yet their indomitable spirit lives,
And to these dark-faced children gives
The moving inspiration!
Today I note your busy crowded halls,
Filled with those youths whom learning calls
To higher destinies!
The noisy workshop sounds again
To tune of hammer, saw and plane,
As earnest effort moulds to shape
The useful things that go to make
Man's lot more comfortable.
If to be striving--contented in the work,--
Which none would think to shirk,--
If to love nature and her beauties rare,
Here bountifully spread with careless care,
If to be drinking at the fount
Which makes men wise,
And all-encircling the cerulean skies--
If these things make the heaven for which man sighs,
Then here, Old Ironsides, is paradise!

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