Lines in Memory of the Philadelphia Volunteer Refreshment Saloon
LINES IN MEMORY OF THE PHILADELPHIA VOLUNTEER REFRESHMENT SALOON.
See where it lies! While roughest workmen toil
To sep’rate every humble brick and beam;
Officious to obliterate from the soil
All trace of structure as a vanish’d dream.
Amid its crumbling heaps no polish’d stone
Of column, dome, or capital appears;
’Tis as some beggars’ hovel were o’erthrown
By sudden tempest and the weight of years.
Yet these are relies of a noble fane
That Love has raised to freedom and man;
An altar which no hypocrites profane—
A shrine where self wears perceptual ban.
The soldier here, upon his wistful way
From Peace to war, (sad contrast,) paus’d an hour;
Just near enough to death to own his sway—
Just far enough from home to feel its power:
This nicely-balanced moment found the word
And work of solace ready for his heart;
A Thousand cups rose reeking on the board
As by the touch of the magician’s art.
The care-worn matron, at the signal’s call,
Gave her breakfast to that mother’s son
Who’d left behind a thousand miles his all,
While she who bore him bravely urged him on.
The smith begrimed from him warm anvil ran,
And the long train of labor’s brown array
Press’d to the welcome—each bring what he can
Without reserve pledged to the cause and day.
The rich man, blushing as he wondering gazed,
In the grand venture begged to have a part;
Thus the old “City of the singers” blazed
With the rare fire that kindles at the heart.
Ye wise ones, mark the lesson of the hour;
True kindness comes not as the torrent’s swell,
But falls in dew drops with a sov’reign power,
As in the wilderness the manna fell.
And thus the ancient promise throws its span
Anew above our throng of selfish cares—
Who spreads the banquet for the common man
May “entertain the angel unawares!”
As at well-spring struck on holy ground,
Here Patriotism drew its life anew;
And, like the draught Samaria’s daughter found,
Its freshness lasted all the journey through!
No cold colossal contribution here
Rears the tall shaft to stamp some brazen name;
The nameless million pile their gifts sincere,
Nor ask nor wish to call the action fame.
No laurelled bad on perfumed lyre shall swell
Its praise in triumph to a foreign shore;
But gray-haired men the history shall tell
To eager list’ners in the eat’ract’s roar,
And onward where the inland seas expand
Whose crystal waters fringe the frozen zone,
And where the prairie’s marv’lous harvest stand,
And westward here deep lies the golden stone,—
And, even there—that portion of our fold
Where Disappointment holds its sullen sway
O’er bartered birthright—shall the tale be told,
For there will it be loved some future day!
Hail and farewell, then, unpretending pile;
Sacred be every handful of thy dust;
I place thee (though the idle proud may smile)
Beside the hallowed mem’ry of the just