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    America

    by Herman Melville
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    I
    Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
    I saw a Banner in gladsome air--
    Starry, like Berenice's Hair--
    Afloat in broadened bravery there;
    With undulating long-drawn flow,
    As rolled Brazilian billows go
    Voluminously o'er the Line.
    The Land reposed in peace below;
    The children in their glee
    Were folded to the exulting heart
    Of young Maternity.

    II
    Later, and it streamed in fight
    When tempest mingled with the fray,
    And over the spear-point of the shaft
    I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
    Valor with Valor strove, and died:
    Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
    And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
    Pale at the fury of her brood.

    III
    Yet later, and the silk did wind
    Her fair cold form;
    Little availed the shining shroud,
    Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm,
    A watcher looked upon her low, and said--
    She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
    But in that sleeps contortion showed
    The terror of the vision there--
    A silent vision unavowed,
    Revealing earth's foundation bare,
    And Gorgon in her hidden place.
    It was a thing of fear to see
    So foul a dream upon so fair a face,
    And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.

    IV
    But from the trance she sudden broke--
    The trance, or death into promoted life;
    At her feet a shivered yoke,
    And in her aspect turned to heaven
    No trace of passion or of strife--
    A clear calm look. It spake of pain,
    But such as purifies from stain-
    Sharp pangs that never come again-
    And triumph repressed by knowledge meet,
    Power dedicate, and hope grown wise,
    And youth matured for age's seat--
    Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
    So she, with graver air and lifted flag;
    While the shadow, chased by light,
    Fled along the far-drawn height,
    And left her on the crag.
    If you're writing a America essay and need some advice, post your Herman Melville essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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