George Meredith 1828 (Portsmouth, Hampshire) – 1909 (Box Hill, Surrey)
Now farewell to you! you are
One of my dearest, whom I trust:
Now follow you the Western star,
And cast the old world off as dust.
From many friends adieu! adieu!
The quick heart of the word therein.
Much that we hope for hangs with you:
We lose you, but we lose to win.
The beggar-king, November, frets:
His tatters rich with Indian dyes
Goes hugging: we our season's debts
Pay calmly, of the Spring forewise.
We send our worthiest; can no less,
If we would now be read aright, -
To that great people who may bless
Or curse mankind: they have the might.
The proudest seasons find their graves,
And we, who would not be wooed, must court.
We have let the blunderers and the waves
Divide us, and the devil had sport.
The blunderers and the waves no more
Shall sever kindred sending forth
Their worthiest from shore to shore
For welcome, bent to prove their worth.
Go you and such as you afloat,
Our lost kinsfellowship to revive.
The battle of the antidote
Is tough, though silent: may you thrive!
I, when in this North wind I see
The straining red woods blown awry,
Feel shuddering like the winter tree,
All vein and artery on cold sky.
The leaf that clothed me is torn away;
My friend is as a flying seed.
Ay, true; to bring replenished day
Light ebbs, but I am bare, and bleed.
What husky habitations seem
These comfortable sayings! they fell,
In some rich year become a dream:-
So cries my heart, the infidel! . . .
Oh! for the strenuous mind in quest,
Arabian visions could not vie
With those broad wonders of the West,
And would I bid you stay? Not I!
The strange experimental land
Where men continually dare take
Niagara leaps;--unshattered stand
'Twixt fall and fall;--for conscience' sake,
Drive onward like a flood's increase; -
Fresh rapids and abysms engage; -
(We live--we die) scorn fireside peace,
And, as a garment, put on rage,
Rather than bear God's reprimand,
By rearing on a full fat soil
Concrete of sin and sloth;--this land,
You will observe it coil in coil.
The land has been discover'd long,
The people we have yet to know;
Themselves they know not, save that strong
For good and evil still they grow.
Nor know they us. Yea, well enough
In that inveterate machine
Through which we speak the printed stuff
Daily, with voice most hugeous, mien
Tremendous:- as a lion's show
The grand menagerie paintings hide:
Hear the drum beat, the trombones blow!
The poor old Lion lies inside! . . .
It is not England that they hear,
But mighty Mammon's pipers, trained
To trumpet out his moods, and stir
His sluggish soul: HER voice is chained:
Almost her spirit seems moribund!
O teach them, 'tis not she displays
The panic of a purse rotund,
Eternal dread of evil days, -
That haunting spectre of success
Which shows a heart sunk low in the girths:
Not England answers nobleness, -
'Live for thyself: thou art not earth's.'
Not she, when struggling manhood tries
For freedom, air, a hopefuller fate,
Points out the planet, Compromise,
And shakes a mild reproving pate:
Says never: 'I am well at ease,
My sneers upon the weak I shed:
The strong have my cajoleries:
And those beneath my feet I tread.'
Nay, but 'tis said for her, great Lord!
The misery's there! The shameless one
Adjures mankind to sheathe the sword,
Herself not yielding what it won:-
Her sermon at cock-crow doth preach,
On sweet Prosperity--or greed.
'Lo! as the beasts feed, each for each,
God's blessings let us take, and feed!'
Ungrateful creatures crave a part -
She tells them firmly she is full;
Lost sheared sheep hurt her tender heart
With bleating, stops her ears with wool:-
Seized sometimes by prodigious qualms
(Nightmares of bankruptcy and death), -
Showers down in lumps a load of alms,
Then pants as one who has lost a breath;
Believes high heaven, whence favours flow,
Too kind to ask a sacrifice
For what it specially doth bestow; -
Gives SHE, 'tis generous, cheese to mice.
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"Lines To A Friend Visiting America" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 20 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/15485/lines-to-a-friend-visiting-america>.