No rockets flamed in sudden fire,
No ringing gladness rocked the spire,
No proud salute, o'er field and town,
Was loud each lesser sound to drown,—
When, on that morning long ago,
A fair young mother, spent and low,
Heard words so sweet: "God give you joy;
The baby is a splendid boy!"
Just words, as simple and as sweet
As ever fall in soft repeat,
Where, after weariness and strain,
And speechless ecstasy of pain,
In hall or hut, the mother waits,
So close to death's unfolding gates,
Till thrills her heart the solemn chord,
The gift exultant from the Lord,
And all her life o'erbrims with joy,—
Her man-child born, her baby boy.
The wide Virginia fields were green
With tender wheat in springing sheen;
O'er mountain slopes and valleys fair
Hung violet mists in golden air;
Coy sap was stirring in the trees,
Faint fragrance fluttered through the breeze,
And robin trills and bluebirds' notes
Came shrilling forth from merry throats;
While hushed and happy in her joy
The mother looked upon her boy.
She dreamed not then of fateful strands
That yet should fill those tiny hands;
Nor camp, nor foray, nor retreat,
Nor flag, nor march, nor stormy beat
Of forceful drum, was in her thought,
Her mind with gentle pleasure fraught.
Not hers to know that many an age
Would reap a sacred heritage
Because her child, her precious one,
Should be his country's noblest son.
No grand ambition marred the joy
She poured upon her baby boy.
To-day, from surf-washed shore to shore,
The deep-lipped guns in triumph roar;
The bells in stately music swing,
The sweet-voiced children laugh and sing;
From mast and fort the pennons fly,
The silken banners stream on high,
And homes and hearts are filled with mirth,
Remembering that baby's birth.
To-day, who gaze along the years,
The finished time of toils and tears,
That still in varying peace and strife
Have gone to make the nation's life,—
Who backward gaze must own the debt
We owe our holiest memory yet;
For all our best, bequeathed, begun,
We needs must honor Washington,
Still first among our good and great,
The grandest name that stars the state.