Eliza Lee Follen


Hark! what sweetly solemn sound
Rises on the morning air?
Shedding gentle peace around,
And stilling busy earthly care.
The mighty city holds its breath,
As the sacred music swells;
And discord dies a transient death,
While listening to those Sabbath bells.
Hearts that had forgot to pray,
Eyes that had been fixed below,
Now look to Heaven, and ask the way,
As to the house of God they go.
But there is one who hears those notes,
To whom like angels' songs they seem;
O'er whose glad soul the music floats,
Like memory of a youthful dream;---
Far from his well-loved father-land,
From early friends, and blessed home,
Chased by the tyrant's bloody hand,
An exiled stranger, doomed to roam:
In freedom's land a home to find,
He hastens o'er the dark blue sea,
Leaving each youthful joy behind,
And asking only to be free.
And now the blessed tones he hears
Of those soft, soothing Sabbath bells;
And as the shore the vessel nears,
More full and strong the anthem swells.
And as he hears the solemn sound,
He leaps with rapture on the shore:
He feels he stands on holy ground;
Feels that his perils all are o'er.
And see, amidst the gazing crowd,
Unheeding all, he's kneeling there:
To the free earth his head is bowed;
His full rapt soul is lost in prayer.
That prayer shall not be breathed in vain;
Nor vain the sacrifice he made:
There is a Hand will give again
The wreath that's on his altar laid.

COMMENT: Religious freedom continues to be central to the concept
of political liberty as it is understood by early nineteenth-
century liberals such as the Follens. Poems such as this also
highlight the centrality of stories of loss and displacement
underlying the nation's growth over the century.