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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By The West Indies (1809). I. Home (“There is a land”)

James Montgomery (1771–1854)

(From Part III)

THERE is a land, of every land the pride,

Beloved by heaven o’er all the world beside;

Where brighter suns dispense serener light,

And milder moons emparadise the night;

A land of beauty, virtue, valour, truth,

Time-tutored age, and love-exalted youth;

The wandering mariner, whose eye explores

The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores,

Views not a realm so bountiful and fair

Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air:

In every clime the magnet of his soul,

Touched by remembrance, trembles to that pole;

For in this land of heaven’s peculiar grace,

The heritage of nature’s noblest race,

There is a spot of earth supremely blest,

A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest,

Where man, creation’s tyrant, casts aside

His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride,

While in his softened looks benignly blend

The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend:

Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,

Strews with fresh flowers the narrow way of life;

In the clear heaven of her delightful eye,

An angel-guard of loves and graces lie;

Around her knees domestic duties meet,

And fireside pleasures gambol at her feet.

—Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?

Art thou a man?—a patriot?—look around:

Oh, thou shalt find, howe’er thy footsteps roam,

That land thy country, and that spot thy home.

On Greenland’s rocks, o’er rude Kamschatka’s plains

In pale Siberia’s desolate domains;

When the wild hunter takes his lonely way,

Tracks through tempestuous snows his savage prey

The reindeer’s spoil, the ermine’s treasure shares,

And feasts his famine on the fat of bears

Or, wrestling with the might of raging seas,

Where round the pole the eternal billows freeze,

Plucks from their jaws the stricken whale, in vain

Plunging down headlong through the whirling main

—His wastes of ice are lovelier in his eye

Than all the flowery vales beneath the sky;

And dearer far than Cæsar’s palace-dome,

His cavern-shelter, and his cottage-home.

O’er China’s garden-fields and peopled floods;

In California’s pathless world of woods:

Round Andes’ heights, where winter from his throne

Looks down in scorn upon the summer zone;

By the gay borders of Bermuda’s isles,

Where spring with everlasting verdure smiles;

On pure Madeira’s vine-robed hills of health;

In Java’s swamps of pestilence and wealth;

Where Babel stood, where wolves and jackals drink

’Midst weeping willows, on Euphrates’ brink;

On Carmel’s crest; by Jordan’s reverend stream,

Where Canaan’s glories vanished like a dream;

Where Greece, a spectre, haunts her heroes’ graves,

And Rome’s vast ruins darken Tiber’s waves;

Where broken-hearted Switzerland bewails

Her subject mountains and dishonoured vales;

Where Albion’s rocks exult amidst the sea,

Around the beauteous isle of liberty;

—Man, through all ages of revolving time,

Unchanging man, in every varying clime,

Deems his own land of every land the pride,

Beloved by heaven o’er all the world beside;

His home the spot of earth supremely blest,

A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.