The Feast of Columbia, 1493-1893.
Mrs. Alice Williams Brotherton is a native of Cambridge, Ind., but has passed nearly all of her life in Ohio. Her parents were Ruth Dodge Johnson Williams and Alfred Baldwin Williams, of Cincinnati, Ohio. She was educated in various private schools, in the St. Louis Eliot Grammar School, and in the Woodward High School, of Cincinnati. She married Mr. William Ernest Brotherton, of Cincinnati. She is the mother of two boys and one girl; the eldest son died in 1800. Her principal literary works are contributions in prose and verse to such periodicals as The Century, The Atlantic, The Independent, and "Beyond the Veil," "The Sailing of King Olaf," and other poems, and "What the Wind Told," in prose and verse. In religious faith she is a Unitarian of the non-conservative type. Her postoffice address is Ridgeway Avenue, Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Hither," Columbia said, With a smile to her daughters four, "From prairie and gulf and sea Come hither and toil with me. 'Ere the century turns from our door, Let us set a feast for the ancient East Upon the New World's shore."
From the rising sun came one, A sturdy colonial dame, With a rugged, cheery face, Tanned by the wind and sun, And a stately, old-time air, Dark eyes with courage aflame Under her powdered hair.
Of cloth from the whirring looms, Woven so soft and fine, Deftly she spread a snowy webb; Said, "Here is a gift of mine. But many another thing To grace your halls I bring, Marbles, polished and varied and rare, And granites strong and good; Fish from my sea beat coasts, Masts from my tall pine wood, Yet something better than these I boast, This ancient blade with the battle nicks. Lo! here is a pen, And the musty parchment deed; Framed in our hour of need By stalwart, single hearted men In Seventeen and Seventy-Six."
And the people of the land, From the oldest to the least Cried, "Hail to the steadfast band Who saved for us Freedom's land: Hurrah, Hurrah! Once and again, Hail to the Mother of Men! Hail to the East!"
Out of the North one paced With a stately step and slow, As one whose going crushed The crispness of the snow. "I bring my flour for the feast From the thousand mills you know, The tasseled ears are torn From my serried ranks of corn. Take them and eat The loaves of the finest wheat.
Here are copper and lead and iron, Whose bands already environ The world, and lumber to frame The walls of the home, The home that redeems the waste, In whose keeping all life is placed. With these and more I come; Take ye these at their worth, These, my gifts," said the North.
And the people shouted, and said, "Hail to the Queen of the Lakes, From whom the nation takes Grateful, its daily bread! Hail to the North! Once more– To her million beds of ore! To the lumber on her shore! And the wheat she sendeth forth The whole world o'er! Hail to the North!"
And one from the sunset came, With steps as a panther's free, And dusky cheek aflame. "I am the child of the Western wild, And bring my gifts to thee.
Red meat I give you here From the bison and the deer, Herds on a thousand hills Where the sunset shines Are yours for the feast," said the West. "But take with these my best Silver and gold from the mine; And a strange new story to read Of an old world in the new, Over canyon written, and mead, Story the Aztecs knew. Of the great new states to be The years shall write for me. Oh, the old is good," quoth she; "But who shall call it the best? Take the best of my gifts from me," Said the mighty West.
Then the land rose up with a shout, "Hail to the Westering Star That leads our conquests afar, Most welcome, oh noble guest! Hail to the Prairie Queen With the eagle's plumes for a crest, Pearls of the gulf in her hand And rails of steel for a girdle band!" Where the moccasined foot has pressed The coming millions shall stand. Hail to the West!
Who comes up from the South With a smile on her full round mouth, But trace of a tear in her eye? Who says, twixt smile and sigh, (Oh sweet as her own south wind her words) "These my offerings be, look. The ploughshare beaten from sword, The spear made pruning-hook, And the fruits of my pruned vine Today are thine.
Take what my tillage yields– The cotton-boll from my fields, Tobacco leaf and cane, And snowy rice from the brakes Where the balmy east wind wakes And the noontides reign. My wealth of flowers fair To grace the feast I bear, And a tropical fruitage rare: Oranges ripe–a mimic sun Molded in gold is every one; Bananas that melt in the mouth, Lemons sweetened with sun– Take ye these, all and one My gifts," said the South.
And the people of the land Cried, "This is the harvest fair After the years of drought, And the rain of blood and tears. No land so fruitful appears, And her wheat shall know no tares!" And her sisters pressed anear And they kissed her on the mouth, And the nation shouted and cried: "Hail to the South in her glad new pride. Hail to the South!"
Smiled the Great Mother, and said, "Peace. The old issues are dead, And the wars are over and done. In one sky glitter afar Southern Cross–Northern Star. We know from rise to set of sun No North or South, no West or East, No first or last, no best or least, For the many in one are one."
"Come," Columbia said To the nations of the earth, "See what the rolling years Have wrought in the land of my birth. See what the brain has thought, And the busy hand has wrought. We have gathered from every side All that we hold of worth; Come ye, and see," Columbia cried To the nations of the earth.
"Where the savage war-whoop rang, And the red men hunted the deer, The hammers of labor briskly clang And the city's streets appear. Man from Nature has won the land, And held it this many a year. Where art has pointed the way, And industry wrought with the hand, Come sit at the feast with me today In the center of my land."
"Come," said the world of the West To the great world of the East, "Join hands across the sea In token of amity. 'Ere the century is done Let us sit down and feast; In all lands shineth one sun And the world is one."