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A Canticle


Significant of the national exaltation of enthusiasm at the close of the War.



O the precipice Titanic
Of the congregated Fall,
And the angle oceanic
Where the deepening thunders call--
And the Gorge so grim,
And the firmamental rim!
Multitudinously thronging
The waters all converge,
Then they sweep adown in sloping
Solidity of surge.

The Nation, in her impulse
Mysterious as the Tide,
In emotion like an ocean
Moves in power, not in pride;
And is deep in her devotion
As Humanity is wide.

Thou Lord of hosts victorious,
The confluence Thou hast twined;
By a wondrous way and glorious
A passage Thou dost find--
A passage Thou dost find:
Hosanna to the Lord of hosts,
The hosts of human kind.

Stable in its baselessness
When calm is in the air,
The Iris half in tracelessness
Hovers faintly fair.
Fitfully assailing it
A wind from heaven blows,
Shivering and paling it
To blankness of the snows;
While, incessant in renewal,
The Arch rekindled grows,
Till again the gem and jewel
Whirl in blinding overthrows--
Till, prevailing and transcending,
Lo, the Glory perfect there,
And the contest finds an ending,
For repose is in the air.

But the foamy Deep unsounded,
And the dim and dizzy ledge,
And the booming roar rebounded,
And the gull that skims the edge!
The Giant of the Pool
Heaves his forehead white as wool--
Toward the Iris every climbing
From the Cataracts that call--
Irremovable vast arras
Draping all the Wall.

The Generations pouring
From times of endless date,
In their going, in their flowing
Ever form the steadfast State;
And Humanity is growing
Toward the fullness of her fate.

Thou Lord of hosts victorious,
Fulfill the end designed;
By a wondrous way and glorious
A passage Thou dost find--
A passage Thou dost find:
Hosanna to the Lord of hosts,
The hosts of human kind.


Herman Melville