Emma Lazarus

22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887 / New York City / United States


DAWN opes her pensive eyes,
In the yet starry skies,
A roseate blush upon her cheek and brows.
Her purple mantle still
Lies on the sky-kissed hill,
And a blue, solemn shade thereon it throws.

The earth lies hushed and calm.
No chant of praise, no psalm
Riseth to greet the rose-crowned queen of day.
Each blade of grass, each leaf,
Stands out in sharp relief,
Against the rayless blue and silver gray.

All nature seems to wait
For some new deed of Fate;
The silence is a sacred, reverent prayer,—
When hark! from some sweet throat
One thrilling, quivering note
Fills with its tremulous music all the air.

Then from the dewy grass
A tiny form doth pass,
A little soul all music and all wings.
All nature's voice is heard,
Embodied in this bird,
That darteth up and, rising, ever sings.

It mounteth still and sings:
What soul yearns not for wings,
To follow after, burst its prison bars,
And learn the secret there,
In those clear realms of air,
The secret of the rainbow and the stars;

To rush as swift as light,
Within those regions bright
Of throbbing, scintillant, intensest blue;
The air all breathless cleave,
And far below to leave
Regrets and tears, the raindrop and the dew.

Ah! caged 'mongst meaner things,
The soul can use no wings,
And beats against the bars it cannot pass;
But it might humbly turn,
Essaying first to learn
The secret of the flowers and the grass.
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