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My Country 'Tis of Thee

Of course you have faced the dilemma: it is announced, they all smirk and rise. If they are ultra, they remove their hats and look ecstatic; then they look at you. What shall you do? Noblesse oblige; you cannot be boorish, or ungracious; and too, after all it is your country and you do love its ideals if not all of its realities. Now, then, I have thought of a way out: Arise, gracefully remove your hat, and tilt your head. Then sing as follows, powerfully and with deep unction. They’ll hardly note the little changes and their feelings and your conscience will thus be saved: 

My country tis of thee, 
Late land of slavery, 
         Of thee I sing. 
Land where my father’s pride 
Slept where my mother died, 
From every mountain side 
         Let freedom ring! 

My native country thee 
Land of the slave set free, 
         Thy fame I love. 
I love thy rocks and rills 
And o’er thy hate which chills, 
My heart with purpose thrills, 
         To rise above. 

Let laments swell the breeze 
And wring from all the trees 
          Sweet freedom’s song. 
Let laggard tongues awake, 
Let all who hear partake, 
Let Southern silence quake, 
         The sound prolong. 

Our fathers’ God to thee 
Author of Liberty, 
         To thee we sing 
Soon may our land be bright, 
With Freedom’s happy light 
Protect us by Thy might, 
         Great God our King.

Poem by W. E. B. Du Bois
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