Unguarded Gates, By Thomas Bailey Aldrich




Bailey Aldrich


WIDE open and unguarded stand our gates,

Named of the four winds, North, South, East, and West;

Portals that lead to an enchanted land

Of cities, forests, fields of living gold,

Vast prairies, lordly summits touched with snow,

Majestic rivers sweeping proudly past

The Arab`s date-palm and the Norseman`s pine

A realm wherein are fruits of every zone,

Airs of all climes, for lo! throughout the year

The red rose blossoms somewhere – a rich land,

A later Eden planted in the wilds,

With not an inch of earth within its bound

But if a slave`s foot press it sets him free.

Here, it is written, Toil shall have its wage,

And Honor honor, and the humblest man

Stand level with the highest in the law.

Of such a land have men in dungeons dreamed,

And with the vision brightening in their eyes

Gone smiling to the fagot and the sword.


Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,

And through them presses a wild motley throng

Men from the Volga and the Tartar steppes,

Featureless figures of the Hoang-Ho,

Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt, and Slav,

Flying the Old World`s poverty and scorn;

These bringing with them unknown gods and rites,

Those, tiger passions, here to stretch their claws.

In street and alley what strange tongues are loud,

Accents of menace alien to our air,

Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew!

O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well

To leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast

Fold Sorrow`s children, soothe the hurts of fate,

Lift the down-trodden, but with hand of steel

Stay those who to thy sacred portals come

To waste the gifts of freedom. Have a care

Lest from thy brow the clustered stars be torn

And trampled in the dust. For so of old

The thronging Goth and Vandal trampled Rome,

And where the temples of the Caesars stood

The lean wolf unmolested made her lair.

May 23, 2001