James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

February 15

The Fifteenth of February

By Charles Edward Russell (1860–1941)


IS it not well, my brethren? They whose sleep

Beneath the nodding palm,

Where the strong currents of the trade wind sweep,

Is measureless and calm,

If from those loyal lips, now one year dumb,

One word across the heaving seas might come,

What other word

Than this should hail the morning? Might they know

That where the tides past grim Cabanas flow

The mirrored glories of their banner glow,

What other cheer be heard?

Is it not well—the surer, stronger sight

And for that pain and shame

The sense of all things slowly set aright

Unto a destined aim?

That gazing where beyond our utmost dreams

The way new broken through the darkness gleams,

Fresh wreaths we bring,

And heeding all that these with life have bought,

What wondrous things the circling months have wrought,

For these held dear in all a nation’s thought

“Pro patria mori” sing.

Is it not well? Pro patria mori! Yea,

For her dear sake no less

Than those that on some hard-fought glorious day

Fall in the strife and stress.

Though not as Anglo-Saxons love to go,

Stern-set, hard-gripped, with answering blow for blow—

Not thus they died—

Yet not without such sacrifice might be

Full wrought the perfect work of Liberty,

Nor we the children of her first-born see

Her sun-lit wings spread wide.

Is it not well? Lo, where the shade was cast

Of out-worn kingly sway

To gloom the Future with a blighted Past,

That curse is swept away;

And now above the fading dark arise

New constellations in the glittering skies;

And in our ears,

That heard but now the universal groan,

The prison shot and tortured prisoner’s moan,

The chorus of a people freed is blown

From the verge of coming years.

Is it not well that far beyond, below,

The market’s empty strife

We have made sure what tides of feeling flow

To make the people’s life?

How deeply shrined the sacred flag has place

In all the toiling million-hearted race,

And at her need

The youthful giant of the nation wakes,

Within his hand a disused weapon takes

Lays down for her his ready life, or shakes

The world with deathless deed.

Is it not well—the hope, as if new born,

The first of glimmering light,

The slender herald of the promised morn

Athwart the ancient night?

That comes with healing for her wounded breast

Of that old East that is the radiant West

Of times to be;

While in her prostrate place as loaded long

With chains of might and blinded hate and wrong,

She trembles at the first heard morning song

From across the morning sea?

Is it not well, my brethren? There is made

One song through all the land;

Before one light old doubts and shadows fade,

With old lines drawn in sand.

The past lies dead. New sight, a broader view,

For the Republic sees a purpose new

Of boundless scope.

While like a sun that burns with clearer flame

Sweeps rising through the sky her spotless fame,

And lights a land that knows one love, one aim,

One flag, one faith, one hope.