Sidney Lanier ( )

Ode to the Johns Hopkins University

How tall among her sisters, and how fair, --
How grave beyond her youth, yet debonair
As dawn, mid wrinkled Matres of old lands
Our youngest Alma Mater modest stands!
In four brief cycles round the punctual sun
Has she, old Learnings latest daughter, won
This grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.
Howbeit she was born
Unnoised as any stealing summer morn.
From far the sages saw, from far they came
And ministered to her,
Led by the soaring-geniusd Sylvester
That, earlier, loosed the knot great Newton tied,
And flung the door of Fames locked temple wide.
As favorable fairies thronged of old and blessed
The cradled princess with their several best,
So, gifts and dowers meet
To lay at Wisdoms feet,
These liberal masters largely brought --
Dear diamonds of their long-compressed thought,
Rich stones from out the labyrinthine cave
Of research, pearls from Times profoundest wave
And many a jewel brave, of brilliant ray,
Dug in the far obscure Cathay
Of meditation deep --
With flowers, of such as keep
Their fragrant tissues and their heavenly hues
Fresh-bathed forever in eternal dews --
The violet with her low-drooped eye,
For learned modesty, --
The student snow-drop, that doth hang and pore
Upon the earth, like Science, evermore,
And underneath the clod doth grope and grope, --
The astronomer heliotrope,
That watches heaven with a constant eye, --
The daring crocus, unafraid to try
(When Nature calls) the February snows, --
And patience perfect rose.
Thus sped with helps of love and toil and thought,
Thus forwarded of faith, with hope thus fraught,
In four brief cycles round the stringent sun
This youngest sister hath her stature won.

Nay, why regard
The passing of the years? Nor made, nor marrd,
By help or hindrance of slow Time was she:
Oer this fair growth Time had no mastery:
So quick she bloomed, she seemed to bloom at birth,
As Eve from Adam, or as he from earth.
Superb oer slow increase of day on day,
Complete as Pallas she began her way;
Yet not from Joves unwrinkled forehead sprung,
But long-time dreamed, and out of trouble wrung,
Fore-seen, wise-plannd, pure child of thought and pain,
Leapt our Minerva from a mortal brain.

And here, O finer Pallas, long remain, --
Sit on these Maryland hills, and fix thy reign,
And frame a fairer Athens than of yore
In these blest bounds of Baltimore, --
Here, where the climates meet
That each may make the others lack complete, --
Where Floridas soft Favonian airs beguile
The nipping North, -- where natures powers smile, --
Where Chesapeake holds frankly forth her hands
Spread wide with invitation to all lands, --
Where now the eager people yearn to find
The organizing hand that fast may bind
Loose straws of aimless aspiration fain
In sheaves of serviceable grain, --
Here, old and new in one,
Through nobler cycles round a richer sun
Oer-rule our modern ways,
O blest Minerva of these larger days!
Call here thy congress of the great, the wise,
The hearing ears, the seeing eyes, --
Enrich us out of every farthest clime, --
Yea, make all ages native to our time,
Till thou the freedom of the city grant
To each most antique habitant
Of Fame, --
Bring Shakespeare back, a man and not a name, --
Let every player that shall mimic us
In audience see old godlike Aeschylus, --
Bring Homer, Dante, Plato, Socrates, --
Bring Virgil from the visionary seas
Of old romance, -- bring Milton, no more blind, --
Bring large Lucretius, with unmaniac mind, --
Bring all gold hearts and high resolved wills
To be with us about these happy hills, --
Bring old Renown
To walk familiar citizen of the town, --
Bring Tolerance, that can kiss and disagree, --
Bring Virtue, Honor, Truth, and Loyalty, --
Bring Faith that sees with undissembling eyes, --
Bring all large Loves and heavenly Charities, --
Till man seem less a riddle unto man
And fair Utopia less Utopian,
And many peoples call from shore to shore,
`The world has bloomed again, at Baltimore!

Sidney Lanier's other poems:
  1. On Huntingdons "Miranda"
  2. Laus Mariae
  3. Resurrection
  4. My Springs
  5. A Birthday Song

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