Posted by: Democratic Thinker | February 25, 2010

E Pluribus Unum

 

E Pluribus Unum.

George Washington Cutter (1801-1865), a native of Massachusetts, settled in Kentucky and there practiced law. When volunteers were called out for the Mexican War, Cutter went to the border as captain of a company; before leaving, however, he prepared his poems for printing in order that his wife might have some means of support during his absence. Liberal subscriptions for the book enabled her to keep back its publication until Mr. Cutter returned home, when he added poems written in camp. Thereafter he served as a clerk in the Treasury, being often called upon for public addresses on patriotic occasions.

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THOUGH many and bright are the stars that appear
In that flag, by our country unfurled—
And the stripes that are swelling in majesty there
Like a rainbow adorning the world—
Their light is unsullied as those in the sky,
By a deed that our fathers have done;
And they’re leagued in as true and as holy a tie
In their motto of “Many in One.”
 
From the hour when those patriots fearlessly flung
That banner of star-light abroad,
Ever true to themselves to that banner they clung,
As they clung to the promise of God;
By the bayonet traced at the midnight of war,
On the fields where our glory was won—
Oh! perish the heart or the hand that would mar
Our motto of “Many in One.”
 
Mid the smoke of the contest, the cannon’s deep roar,
How oft it has gathered renown,
While those stars were reflected in rivers of gore,
Where the cross and the lion went down;
And though few were their lights in the gloom of that hour,
Yet the hearts that were striking below
Had God for their bulwark, and truth for their power,
And they stopped not to number their foe.
 
From where our green mountain tops blend with the sky
And the giant Saint Lawrence is rolled,
To the waves where the balmy Hesperides lie,
Like the dream of some prophet of old,
They conquered—and dying, bequeathed to our care
Not this boundless dominion alone,
But that banner whose loveliness hallows the air,
And their motto of “Many in One.”
 
We are many in one while there glitters a star
In the blue of the heavens above;
And tyrants shall quail, mid their dungeons afar,
When they gaze on that motto of love.
It shall gleam o’er the sea mid the bolts of the storm—
Over tempest, and battle, and wreck;
And flame where our guns with their thunder grow warm,
‘Neath the blood on the slippery deck.
 
The oppressed of the earth to that standard shall fly
Wherever its folds shall be spread;
And the exile shall feel ’tis his own native sky,
Where its stars shall float over his head:
And those stars shall increase till the fulness of time
Its millions of cycles has run;
Till the world shall have welcomed its mission sublime,
And the nations of earth shall be one.
 
Though the old Alleghany may tower to heaven
And the Father of Waters divide,
The links of our destiny cannot be riven
While the truth of those words shall abide.
Then oh, let them glow on each helmet and brand
Though our blood like our rivers shall run;
Divide as we may in our own native land,
To the rest of the world we are one.
 
Then up with the flag! Let it stream in the air
Though our fathers are cold in their graves;
They had hands that could strike, they had souls that could dare,
And their sons were not born to be slaves.
Up, up with that banner! Where’er it may call,
Our millions shall rally around;
And a nation of freemen that moment shall fall
When its stars shall be trailed on the ground.

—George Washington Cutter.

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