Dawn scarce had lit the torch of smiling day
When quaked the earth as with convulsive fear
And palsying horror, till, both far and near,
Death's trumpets blared where ruin's wreckage lay.
Then Fire demoniac raged along its way
On flame-wreathed pinions, hurtling spear on spear
Of direful doom, while still the strangely drear,
Calm sun shone on with blood-encrimsoned ray.
And Devastation through the waste did sride
With glut so sated, that it truly seemed
His cup of joy could hold not one drop more.
But in her fine magnificence of pride
St. Francis' child blenched not, but greatly dreamed
Of nobler, grander glories than before.
What glories have been hers, this radiant Queen
Of great Balboa's far-outstretching sea,
Where, throned amid adoring subjects, she
Superbly looked impregnably serene.
Her jovial ones mayhap too oft were seen
The slaves of pleasure's witcheries to be,
For life in its variety was free
As the ocean winds that sweep her fair demesne.
Yet cornucopias emptied at her feet;
Music made glad her ever-listening ear,
While Art for her the loveliest things unfurled;
Hers, many a memory of enchantment sweet,
And hers the song of Poets ringing clear
Amid the sordid tumult of the world.
O the dread tremor of that awful morn
Which shook the deep foundations of her throne,
And lit the flames that made her stoutest own
She might be left irreparably lorn!
Ah, then all horrors seemed for her new born
From Fire's vast womb: stone fell on heaping stone,
Till even her once-thronged highways were unknown
Except to Havoc for his mock and scorn.
But with a voice that reached Hope's farthest sky
She bade her eager ones regenerate
The erstwhile splendors of each wreck-strewn scene.
Obedient they with resolution high,
And though not now "indifferent of fate,"
Once more she reigns impregnably serene.
About her feet the ashes still are spread
Where homeless walls in piteous ruin lie,
And lonely winds all melancholy sigh
Where wit upon the wings of laughter sped;
Her splendors that in fiery tumult fled
Still din her ear with their importunate cry,
Still clouds obscure the lustre of her sky,
Still Devastation gloats upon her dead.
Yet sits she firm upon her rock-based throne,
The heart of every courage in her breast,
And beaming on her Hope's inviolate flame.
She dares the loftiest things of earth to own,
And with invincible, abounding zest
To add immortal glories to her name.
What matters that her multitudinous store--
The garnered fruit of measureless desire--
Sank in the mælstrom of abysmal fire,
To be of man beheld on earth no more?
Her loyal children, cheery to the core,
Quailed not, nor blenched, while she, above the ire
Of elemental ragings, dared aspire
On Victory's wings resplendently to soar.
What matters all the losses of the years,
Since she can count the subjects as her own
That share her fortunes under every fate;
Who weave their brightest tissues from her tears,
And who, although her best be overthrown,
Resolve to make her and to keep her great.
Queen regnant she, and so shall be for aye
As long as her still unpolluted sea
Shall wash the borders of her brave and free,
And mother her incomparable Bay.
The pharisees and falsehood-mongers may
Be rashly blatant as they care to be,
She yet with dauntless, old-time liberty
Will hold her own indomitable way.
O Royal One, all love the heart can bear,
The all of strength that human arm can wield,
Are thine devotedly, and ever thine;
And thou wilt use them till thy brow shall wear
A never crown by high endeavor sealed
With gems emitting brilliance divine.