Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/83

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73
THE READING-CLUB.

From the midst of the people is stricken a symbol they daily saw,
Set over against the law-book, of a higher than human law;
For his life was a ceaseless protest, and his voice was a prophet's cry
To be true to the truth, and faithful, though the world were arrayed for the lie.

From the hearing of those who hated, a threatening voice has passed;
But the lives of those who believe and die are not blown like a leaf on the blast.
A sower of infinite seed was he, a woodman that hewed to the light,
Who dared to be traitor to Union when Union was traitor to right.

"Fanatic!" the insects hissed, till he taught them to understand
That the highest crime may be written in the highest law of the land.
"Disturber," and "dreamer," the Philistines cried, when he preached an ideal creed,
Till they learned that the men who have changed the world with the world have disagreed;
That the remnant is right, when the masses are led like sheep to the pen;
For the instinct of equity slumbers till roused by instinctive men.

It is not enough to win rights from a king, and write them down in a book:
New men, new lights; and the fathers' code the sons may never brook.
What is liberty now were license then; their freedom our yoke would be;
And each new decade must have new men to determine its liberty.
Mankind is a marching army, with a broadening front the while.
Shall it crowd its bulk on the farm-paths, or clear to the outward file?