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Verse > Anthologies > cutting board R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale book of American Verse
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale book of American Verse.  1912.

You are watching: Truth forever on the scaffold wrong forever on the throne

James Russell Lowell. 1819–1891
128. The existing Crisis
WHEN a deed is done for Freedom, through the large earth's aching breast 
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, thrilling on from eastern to west, 
And the slave, where'er that cowers, feel the spirit within that climb 
To the dreadful verge the manhood, together the energy sublime 
Of a century explode full-blossomed ~ above the thorny stem of Time.         5
Through the walls of hut and also palace shooting the instantaneous throe, 
When the travail that the periods wrings earth's solution to and also fro; 
At the birth of each new Era, through a recognizing start, 
Nation insanity looks at nation, standing through mute lips apart, 
And glad Truth's however mightier man-child leaps in ~ the Future's heart.  10
So the Evil's triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill, 
Under continent to continent, the feeling of coming ill, 
And the slave, where'er that cowers, feeling his sympathies with God 
In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to it is in drunk increase by the sod, 
Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the noble clod.  15
For mankind are one in spirit, and also an instinct bear along, 
Round the earth's electric circle, the swift speed of ideal or wrong; 
Whether mindful or unconscious, however Humanity's large frame 
Through the ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;— 
In the get or lose of one race all the rest have actually equal claim.  20
Once to every man and nation comes the minute to decide, 
In the strife of reality with Falsehood, because that the great or evil side; 
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, giving each the bloom or blight, 
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, 
And the selection goes through forever 'twixt the darkness and that light.  25
Hast she chosen, O mine people, on whose party she shalt stand, 
Ere the doom from the worn sandals shakes the dust against our land? 
Though the reason of evil prosper, however 't is truth alone is strong, 
And, albeit she float outcast now, ns see around her throng 
Troops the beautiful, high angels, come enshield she from every wrong.  30
Backward look throughout the ages and the beacon-moments see, 
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut with Oblivion's sea; 
Not an ear in court or market for the low, foreboding cry 
Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from who feet earth's chaff should fly; 
Never reflects the selection momentous it rotates the referee hath pass by.  35
Careless appears the good Avenger; history's pages however record 
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and also the Word; 
Truth forever ~ above the scaffold, not correct forever ~ above the throne,— 
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, 
Standeth God in ~ the shadow, maintaining watch over his own.  40
We view dimly in the present what is tiny and what is great, 
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the stole helm the fate, 
But the heart is still oracular; amid the market's din, 
List the ominous stern to whisper from the Delphic cavern within,— 
"They enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin."  45
Slavery, the earth-born Cyclops, fellest that the giant brood, 
Sons of brutish Force and also Darkness, who have actually drenched the earth with blood, 
Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our purer day, 
Gropes in however unblasted regions for his miserable prey;— 
Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless kids play?  50
Then to side with fact is noble once we share she wretched crust, 
Ere she cause carry fame and profit, and 't is thriving to be just; 
Then the is the brave guy chooses, when the coward stands aside, 
Doubting in his abject spirit, it spins his mr is crucified, 
And the multitude do virtue that the belief they had actually denied.  55
Count me o'er earth's liked heroes,—they were souls that stood alone, 
While the guys they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone, 
Stood serene, and down the future saw the gold beam incline 
To the next of perfect justice, master by their confidence divine, 
By one man's plain truth to manhood and to God's can be fried design.  60
By the irradiate of burn heretics Christ's bleeding feet i track, 
Toiling up brand-new Calvaries ever before with the overcome that transforms not back, 
And these mounts of anguish number just how each generation learned 
One new word the that grand Credo i m sorry in prophet-hearts on foot burned 
Since the very first man stand God-conquered through his challenge to sky upturned.  65
For mankind sweeps onward: wherein to-day the martyr stands, 
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands; 
Far in prior the cross stands ready and also the crackling fagots burn, 
While the hooting lot of yesterday in silent awe return 
To glean up the scattered ashes right into History's golden urn.  70
'T is as straightforward to be heroes regarding sit the idle slaves 
Of a legendary virtue carved upon our fathers' graves, 
Worshippers that light ancestral make the existing light a crime;— 
Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time? 
Turn those monitor toward previous or Future, that made Plymouth absent sublime?  75
They were guys of current valor, stalwart old iconoclasts, 
Unconvinced through axe or gibbet the all virtue was the Past's; 
But us make their truth our falsehood, thinking that on foot made us free, 
Hoarding the in mouldy parchments, when our soft spirits flee 
The rude grasp of that great Impulse i beg your pardon drove them throughout the sea.

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They have actually rights who dare preserve them; we space traitors to our sires, 
Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom's new-lit altar-fires; 
Shall we make your creed our jailer? chandelier we, in ours haste come slay, 
From the tombs of the old prophets steal the funeral lamps away 
To irradiate up the martyr-fagots ring the prophets of to-day?  85
New occasions teach new duties; Time provides ancient an excellent uncouth; 
They must upward still, and also onward, that would keep abreast the Truth; 
Lo, prior to us gleam she camp-fires! us ourselves need to Pilgrims be, 
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly with the desperate winter sea, 
Nor attempt the Future's portal through the Past's blood-rusted key.  90