the stroke of justice

by Lyman Whitney Allen

The hour was come, the Nation’s crucial hour;
        A crisis of the world, a turn of time;
                The ages’ hope and dream.
And one undaunted soul, sinewed with power,
        Freedom’s anointed, rose to height sublime,
                Imperial and supreme;

And, lifting high o’er groaning multitude
        His sovereign sceptre, smote with such a stroke
                The chains of centuries,
That earth was shaken to its farthest rood;
        That millioned manacles asunder broke,
                And myriad properties

Became, in one immortal moment,—men;
        Free with the free in all the rounded earth;
                Redeemed by martyr blood;
To stand with faces to the light again,
        Attaining, through their resurrection birth,
                To human brotherhood.

From 1889 to 1916 Lyman Whitney Allen was pastor of South Park Presbyterian Church where Lincoln, on the way to his first inauguration in 1861, had made brief remarks before a throng of Newarkers. Allen’s book-length prize poem Abraham Lincoln, from which this excerpt is taken, first appeared in the New York Herald of December 15, 1895.

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