The Congress of Women: The Feast of Columbia, 1493-1893
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.
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."
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.
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."
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!"
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.
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.
"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!"
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.
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.
"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!
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.
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.
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!"
"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."
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.
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."
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."