Our Banner In the Sky

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The response of artist Frederic Edwin Church to the firing on Fort Sumter.  Painted in May of 1861 it quickly became a symbol of the nation throughout the North.  Lithographs of it were made and sold, with the proceeds being used to help provide for the families of Union soldiers.  One of more successful and best known of the American artists of his day, he was also a patriot.

 

Unmanifest Destiny (1898)

TO what new fates, my country, far
And unforeseen of foe or friend,
Beneath what unexpected star
Compelled to what unchosen end.

Across the sea that knows no beach,
The Admiral of Nations guides
Thy blind obedient keels to reach
The harbor where thy future rides!

The guns that spoke at Lexington
Knew not that God was planning then
The trumpet word of Jefferson
To bugle forth the rights of men.

To them that wept and cursed Bull Run,
What was it but despair and shame?
Who saw behind the cloud the sun?
Who knew that God was in the flame?

Had not defeat upon defeat,
Disaster on disaster come,
The slave’s emancipated feet
Had never marched behind the drum.

There is a Hand that bends our deeds
To mightier issues than we planned;
Each son that triumphs, each that bleeds,
My country, serves It’s dark command.

I do not know beneath what sky
Nor on what seas shall be thy fate;
I only know it shall he high,
I only know it shall be great.

Richard Hovey

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