Olivia Ward Bush-Banks' Original Poems and Driftwood

Lights Along Shore

Lights Along Shore

Abraham Lincoln

Like some gigantic, lofty forest tree,
Shorn of its leafy garment in the storm,
With roots secure deep-fastened in the earth,
Where naught can rob it of its noble form,
So stood this man, strong in his sense of right,
Who faltered not, whose courage never failed,
Within the Nation's heart, his image stands
For aye;--because o'er Wrong he had prevailed.

More than a friend, or brother, then was he,
In very truth, a Martyr for the Cause,
Unflinching in his zeal-opposing wrong,
Defending bravely God's own Righteous laws.
For, out of hard almost unyielding rock,
Did he not hew a passage for our way?
Did he not cause the darkness to disperse,
Did we not see the dawning of the day?

Live ever in our memories, great soul.
Tho' passed beyond the pale of human sense,
Thy work well done, hath found its just reward,
Divine approval is thy recompense.

Federic Douglass

We would render fitting tribute,
We would add to thy great fame,
We would crown thee with due honor
And immortalize thy name.

Till Life's evening closed around thee,
Thy great love remained the same,
Then from out the Land of Spirits
Silently the summons came.

In the greatness of thy manhood,
We can see thee even now,
Stamped upon our hearts thy image,
Silver hair and noble brow.

"Grand old Statesman," Thou wast loyal
To thy country and her cause,
By the right of such devotion,
Thou hast won our just applause.

Orator of noblest order,
Thine the power to declare,
Thrilling Theme, in tones portraying,
Eloquence, divinely rare.

Once, in pleading for thy people,
Who had suffered grevious wrong,
Words like these, intense with feeling
Fell upon the list'ning throng.

"Judge us not, O! favored races,
From the lofty heights of fame,
Rather measure our progression,
By the depths from whence we came.

Telling words, O, Great Defender,
Of a cause so dear to thee,
Not alone, thy love revealing
But thy heart's deep loyalty.

Broad and liberal was thy judgment,
One aim thine Equality
Caring not for creed or color,
Man was man alike to thee.

If beyond this mortal striving,
Man may reach a higher plain,
Thou wilt see Life's aim completed,
And to greatest heights attain.

Carnep, The Brave Standard Bearer

'Twas a time of fiercest conflict,
Enmity and awful woe,
'Twist the North, the friend of Freedom,
And the South, its bitter foe.

Day by day, the roar of battle
Sounded forth its deathlike knell,
Day by day the best and bravest
Died, amid the shot and shell.

Foremost in the ranks of warriors,
Our black heroes took their place,
With the lines of fearless courage,
Stamped upon each dusky face.

We recall with pride, the story
Of the gallant Fifty-fourth,
Fighting on the field at Wagner,
With the brave ones of the North.

There the dauntless William Carney,
In the Union's sacred name,
Held aloft the flying colors,
Won a never-dying fame.

He was first to plant the standard,
On the fort he raised it high,
And he watched the floating banner,
With a patriot's jealous eye.

Mid retreat and dire confusion,
Oh! not once did he forget;
But he snatched the royal emblem
From the lofty parapet.

On his knees he bravely followed,
With one hand pressed to his side,
While the other, held the colors,
Borne with patriotic pride.

What a cheer went up for Carney,
As he held the colors high,
While a soldier's admiration,
Beamed in every comrade's eye.

"Boys! I have but done my duty,"
Carney said to those around,
"I have brought the old flag safely,
And it never touched the ground."

'Twas a deed both brave and noble,
And the loyal patriot's name,
Lives to-day and will forever,
In our memories remain.

We can ne'er forget this hero,
Or the gallant Fifty-Fourth,
Fighting on the field at Wagner,
With the brave ones of the North.

Unchained 1863

O'er the land, a hush had fallen,
Hearts Thrilled expectantly,
Till from twice two million voices,
Rang the glad cry, "We are free!"
Then the whole world caught the echo,
"We are free! Yes! We are free!"

What a dawning from the midnight!
What a day of jubilee!
Twas the New Year's song of triumph,
That they sang so joyously,
Till it echoed and re-echoed
"We are free! Yes! We are free!"

From the voice of one brave woman,
Who, in human sympathy,
With a pen of love and pity
Wrote the wrongs of slavery,
Came the glad new cry of triumph,
"They are free! Yes! They are free!"

And the freedmen, still rejoicing,
Sang of John Brown's victory,
Sang of Lincoln's Proclamation,
Saying, "These have made us free."
Sumner, Garrison, and Phillips,
All too fought to make us free.

Then the joyous song grew louder,
By that price of loyalty,
Paid by us with our best lifeblood,
We attest that we are free!
On the battle-field with honor,
Our own blood has made us free."

Free indeed, but free to struggle,
Free to toil unceasingly,
Naught of wealth, naught of possession,
Was their portion, e'en tho' free;
But they faltered not, they failed not,
Saying ever, "We are free!"

For their rightful place contending,
They foresaw their destiny,
And they pleaded, never ceasing,
"Give us opportunity!"
"Give us justice, recognition,
'Tis our right! for we are free!"

From the lips of Frederic Douglass,
Came these words of loyalty,
"Judge not harshly these my people,
This is but their infancy,
From the depths they have ascended,
Give them rights, for they are free!"

After years of ceaseless striving,
Struggling for the mastery,
Over self and ill conditions,
Still they're singing, "We are free!"
By the virtue of our struggle,
We shall reap our destiny.

Though we suffer, in our freedom,
By the hand of cruelty,
In the lawlessness of Evil,
God is just, and we are free;
Life and love, not woe or slaughter,
Are the birthright of the free.

When by prejudice untrammeled,
Rich in manly liberty,
We receive that recognition
Rightly given to the free,
Then the whole world shall proclaim it,
"Free indeed! Yes! Ye are free!"

A Hero of San Juan Hill

Among the sick and wounded ones,
This stricken soldier-boy lay
With glassy eye and shortened breath,
His life seemed slipping fast away.

My heart grew faint to see him thus,
His dark brown face so full of pain,
I wondered if the mother's eyes
Were looking for her boy in vain.

I bent to catch his feeble words;
"I am so ill, and far from home,
I feel so strange and lonely here,
You seem a friend, I'm glad you've come."

"I want to tell you how our boys
Went charging on the enemy,
'Twas when we climbed up San Juan's Hill
And there we got the victory."

"The Spaniards poured a heavy fire,
We met it with a right good-will,
We saw the 71st fall back,
And then our boys went up the hill."

"Yes up the hill, and gained it too,
Not one brave boy was seen to lag;
Old Glory o'er us floating free,
We'd gladly died for that old flag."

His dim eye brightened as he spoke,
He seemed unconscious of his pain,
In fancy on the battle-field,
He lived that victory o'er again.

And I, I seemed to grasp it too,
The stalwart form, the dusky face,
Of each black hero climbing up,
To win fair glory for their race.

The Spaniards said, "That phalanx seemed
To move like one black solid wall."
They flung defiance back at death,
To answer to their country's call.

They fought for Cuban liberty,
Up San Juan Hill they fought their way,
Until their life-blood freely spent,
Marked how these heroes won the day.

March on dark sons of Africa's race,
Naught can be gained by standing still,
Retreat not, quit yourselves like men,
And like these heroes, climb the hill.

Till pride and prejudice shall cease,
Till racial barriers are unknown,
Attain the heights, and thou shalt find,
Equality upon the Throne.

Wendell Phillips

A mighty tempest swept the Nation's course
And strong men sank beneath the ruthless blast
And feared to rise amid the wreck and ruin
Of Slave-bound misery and woe,
Nor dared to rally to the Call of Right,
Yet still despising the ignoble reign
Of Serfdom and its pitiless design
Upon man's helpless brother-man.

O, direful was the need in that sad hour
And blessed was the sound of that rare voice
Of those strong words of challenge and demand
To save a Nation from itself.
Full willingly this tender sapling bowed,
Yet did not break beneath the weight of scorn,
Beneath the hatred of his fellow-man
Nor would not hold his peace.

How mightily he rose amid the ruin,
Amid the blighting blast of Slavery's power,
And wrought, full hopeful of the righteous end,
Until the souls of men revived
And caught a vision of the better way,
The nobler standard of a Nation's might,
The consciousness of human brotherhood,
The priceless boon of liberty.

O, heart of love! thine was the fine desire
To aid thy helpless brother in his need,
To teach thy kind the error and the shame
Of holding back another's right.
May we, whose chafing fetters were unbound
By thine outspoken word of strong defence,
Keep burning on the altar of our souls
The incense of thy sacrifice.

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