Sarah Josepha Hale


We bring no earthly wreath for Time;
To man th'immortal Time was given-
Years should be marked by deeds sublime,
That elevate his soul to heaven.
Thou proudly passing year-thy name
Is registered in mind's bright flame,
And louder than the roar of waves,
Thundering from ocean's prison caves,
Comes the glad shout that hallows thee
The Year of Freedom's Jubilee!
'Tis strange how mind has been chained down,
And reason scourged like branded sin!
How man has shrunk before man's frown,
And darkened heaven's own fire within!
But Freedom breathed-the flame burst forth-
Wo to the spoilers of the earth,
Who would withstand its lightning stroke,
And heavier forge the galling yoke;-
As well the breaking reed might dare
The cataract's rush-the whirlwind's war!
Ay, thrones must crumble-even as clay,
Searched by the scorching sun and wind!
And crushed be Superstition's sway
That would with writing scorpions bind
The terror-stricken conscience down
Beneath anointed monarch's frown;
Till Truth is in her temple sought,
The soul's unbribed, unfettered thought,
That, science-guided, soars unawed,
And reading Nature rests on God!
This must be-is-the passing year
Has rent the veil, and despots stand
In the keen glance of Truth severe,
With craven brow and palsied hand:-
Ye, who would make man's spirit free,
And change the Old World's destiny,
Bring forth from Learning's halls the light,
And watch, that Virtue's shield be bright;
Then to the "God of order" raise
The vow of faith, the song of praise,
And on-and sweep Oppression's chains,
Like ice beneath the vernal rains!
My Country, ay, thy sons are proud,
True heirs of Freedom's glorious dower;
For never here has knee been bowed
In homage to a mortal power:
No, never here has tyrant reigned,
And never here has thought been chained!
Then who would follow Europe's sickly light,
When here the soul may put forth all her might,
And show the nations, as they gaze in awe,
That Wisdom dwells with Liberty and Law!
O, when will Time his holiest triumph bring-
"Freedom o'er all the earth, and Christ alone reigns King!"


1830 was a year of bourgeois revolutions in Europe. This poem, together with "Bonds" and other of Hale's political writing, sketches out a picture of her millennial republicanism and the limits of the idea of liberty associated with her views. It is an idea rooted in European historical experience and particularly the era of Protestant Reformation, peculiarly unadapted to such American experiences as encounters between European settlers and Native Americans and the institution of slavery.


Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens & London: U of Georgia P, 1995).