Our New Paltz Poem

Our New Paltz

I

PRELUDE

From the old mansion window, reviewing the scene
Made sacred in childhood to frolic and game,
Old Memory asks if the long years between
Forbid that herself and the child be the same;

So I know of a balcony built ‘neath the sky,
Whence I turn and look back on the broad earth below;
And wonder if this was my home, and if I
Am the life that it knew in the long years ago.

Had I brothers and sisters? — I call them kin now–
And the shoot now the shade of a mighty tree weaves —
There’s sway in the branch, there’s a rock on the bough,
And a sweet breath from Heaven is rustling the leaves.
‘Tis the spirit of brotherly-love, and it comes
With a voice that is echoed from far-distant days;
And pleads in the name of our freedom, our homes,
Reunion in gratitude, gladness and praise!

II

Our fathers’ home! — Thou lovely vale,
Ye mountains decked with farm and wood;
Your memories to us entail
A legacy of brotherhood.

Dear be to us this sacred ground’
Here fondly let our spirits roam
–Where first a life within us found,
A peaceful Refuge, Rest and Home.

Home makes a tie none can forget,
And thence our best emotions start;
One pulse is beating in us yet,
On earth the veins, in Heaven the heart.

Such life must have its single sole
To strike the many-noted chord;
And every portion claim the whole
To swell its anthem to the Lord.

Then join your hearts, that from this hour
Ye stand a firm and God-linked chain,
To bind that God-forsaken power
That craved your blood and loves the stain!

Your stories are my stories, told
In ever varied tongue and tone;
And, as in leaves, how manifold
The differences that make us one!

A thousand differences of kind,
Aye! and a thousand of degree;
But in each fruit one seed I find
That hath true counterpart in me.

Though strangers still, though each life seems
A hidden maze of trait and lot,
One polar star in each soul gleams
that draws me to its vital spot.

And there with joyous steps I steal,
and hear a voice from other days
That sings of rest, and makes me feel
there is a prophecy in praise.

Our fathers’ praises we renew,
For hither all our hearts have come
To prove the Truth our fathers knew,
Itself is Refuge, Rest and Home.

III

0 temple of our ancestors, –
-Whose incense, breathed from cliff and sod,
Gave life for death, and peace for wars,
And knew no priest but Christ in God.

No alter smoke here lifted toward
A costly ceil and dusky dome,
That shuts the creature from his Lord,
and binds his worship down to Rome.

Our fathers reared no pictured wall
No Virgin’s shrine, no idol fane;
–No prison-like confessional,
Where priests turn parish guild to gain.

Not here could weak and wanton man
Assume divine viceregency
-Profess the gospel as his plan.
Yet fear to make its pages free.

No foothold here for mockeries-
-For soulless forms no livelihood-
-Whose swelling growth is of disease,
and ignorance is staple food.

Then who are they whose voices swell
this mighty dome and newborn hopes?
A God-directed Israel.
Freed from the tyranny of popes!

The voices from the waves that fret
The noble Hudson’s peaceful shore,
Seem mocking now the cruel threat
Once echoed from the galley oar.

Did savage menace? ‘Twas release
The whoop was better than the mass;
The howling wilderness was peace,
And papal threats but tinkling brass.

Not fugitives from justice then,
Not bands to plunder and maraud,
But heretics to cruel men,
Whose creed was heresy to God, —

Then any hands that lifted be,
By far had better strike than mock;
For noble souls would sooner flee
The crozier than the tomahawk!

Who dared to place their church before
The Head they claimed for it above,
Pretending, by a cruel warm
To gain the hearts He seeks for love.

Not hopes of conquest or of gain
Behind our fathers’ motives stood-
-Like wild adventurers from Spain,
Who left no influence for good.

And prince or peasant, be they want,
We rate them not by earthly things;
The spirit of the HUGUENOT,
Was nobler than the blood of kings.

For royal blood is hot with strife,
And every vein with death is stored,
But Truth grows mightier as its life
Streams by the adversary’s sword!

Drunk with the blood of noble lives
Were all the Babylonish crew;
But, ah! The living gospel thrives
On deeds like St. Bartholomew!

Not much I ween; their memories rot–
While all the world with fervor starts
To laud the fearless HUGUENOT,
Whose shield is blazoned on our hearts!

The Truth they knew, the Faith they loved,
Were shield and crest and coronet;
Their principles, by God approved.
Support and bind this nation yet.

Then, who shall say our Faith is blind,
Or deem its sight a fantasy?
No other motive of the mind
Dares make its record half so free!

No other motive of the heart
Is half so sweet or half so strong;
No other plays a nobler part,
Performs so much, endures so long!

IV

L’EN Vol

Now, Brothers by blood,–more, Brethren by Faith,
There’s a thought that is borne to. us all ere we part:–
The life in us now is a rescue from death,
And its trials have brought us a peace for the heart.

Though silently on, by his monarchy draped,
To our free land the tyrant is crossing the flood–
His spirit the same that our fathers escaped,
His garments still dyed with the redness of blood.
Oh, say! shall he whirl us about on his breath–
Prepare for our children the fagot and stake,
When our very existence here proves the faith
Of our fathers hath peace which no power can break?

Nay–the answer is ours! and we dare not rely
On the merits of those who have left us their name
But girding their armor, ’tis ours to defy
The power whose record is covered with shame!
Then stand to the world, not in pride or self-laud,
But praying that History lift off the veil
From the future of all, who will trust in our God
Redeeming the promise that Truth shall prevail.

—-

From The Family reunion in New Paltz in 1875
The poem was read by Patterson DuBois, of Philadelphia