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Ode To William H. Channing

Written by: Ralph Waldo Emerson | Biography
 Though loth to grieve
The evil time's sole patriot,
I cannot leave
My buried thought
For the priest's cant,
Or statesman's rant.
If I refuse My study for their politique, Which at the best is trick, The angry muse Puts confusion in my brain.
But who is he that prates Of the culture of mankind, Of better arts and life? Go, blind worm, go, Behold the famous States Harrying Mexico With rifle and with knife.
Or who, with accent bolder, Dare praise the freedom-loving mountaineer, I found by thee, O rushing Contoocook! And in thy valleys, Agiochook! The jackals of the negro-holder.
The God who made New Hampshire Taunted the lofty land With little men.
Small bat and wren House in the oak.
If earth fire cleave The upheaved land, and bury the folk, The southern crocodile would grieve.
Virtue palters, right is hence, Freedom praised but hid; Funeral eloquence Rattles the coffin-lid.
What boots thy zeal, O glowing friend, That would indignant rend The northland from the south? Wherefore? To what good end? Boston Bay and Bunker Hill Would serve things still: Things are of the snake.
The horseman serves the horse, The neat-herd serves the neat, The merchant serves the purse, The eater serves his meat; 'Tis the day of the chattel, Web to weave, and corn to grind, Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind.
There are two laws discrete Not reconciled, Law for man, and law for thing; The last builds town and fleet, But it runs wild, And doth the man unking.
'Tis fit the forest fall, The steep be graded, The mountain tunnelled, The land shaded, The orchard planted, The globe tilled, The prairie planted, The steamer built.
Live for friendship, live for love, For truth's and harmony's behoof; The state may follow how it can, As Olympus follows Jove.
Yet do not I implore The wrinkled shopman to my sounding woods, Nor bid the unwilling senator Ask votes of thrushes in the solitudes.
Every one to his chosen work.
Foolish hands may mix and mar, Wise and sure the issues are.
Round they roll, till dark is light, Sex to sex, and even to odd; The over-God, Who marries Right to Might, Who peoples, unpeoples, He who exterminates Races by stronger races, Black by white faces, Knows to bring honey Out of the lion, Grafts gentlest scion On Pirate and Turk.
The Cossack eats Poland, Like stolen fruit; Her last noble is ruined, Her last poet mute; Straight into double band The victors divide, Half for freedom strike and stand, The astonished muse finds thousands at her side.



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