Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Poetic 4th

Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Horsham, PA

The Better Way

Who serves his country best?
Not he who, for a brief and stormy space,
Leads fourth her armies to the fierce affray.
Short is the time of turmoil and
Long years of peace succeed it and replace:
There is a better way.
Who serves his country best?
Not he who guides her senates in
And makes the laws which are her prop and stay;
Not he who wears the poet's purple vest
And sings her songs of love and grief and fate:
There is a better way.
He serves his country best,
Who joins the tide that lifts her nobly on;
For speech has myriad tongues for every day,
And song but one; and law within the breast
Is stronger than the graven law on stone;
This is a better way.
He serves his country best
Who lives pure life, and doeth
righteous deed,
And walks straight paths, however others stray,
And leaves his sons as uttermost
A stainless record which all men may read:
This is the better way.
No drop but serves the slowly lifting tide,
No dew but has an errand to some flower,
No smallest star but sheds some
helpful ray,
And man by man, each giving to all the rest,
Makes the firm bulwark of the
country's power:
There is no better way.
-- Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, 1835-1905 (pen name Susan Coolidge)

Happy 4th of July, everyone!