Spirit of living Truth,
Fresh in immortal youth,
Yet aged as Eternity!
Come, at the fervid calls
Of hearts that, ever seeking after thee,
To thy great purpose dedicate these walls:
Come, and spread here thy broad and beaming wings,
Where, in thy name, the Muse her humble tribute brings.
Spirit of Art, divine!
This edifice shall be a shrine
Where thy true worshippers may kneel:
Standing sublime in Learning’s cause,
The impress of thy mighty laws
Its form majestic will reveal,
While the same glorious Sun shall make it bright,
Or the same Moon shall gild it with her light,
As have for ages shed their beams upon
The hallowed ruins of the Parthenon!
And Wisdom’s goddess, here shall own
All that approach to seek her lore,
No less, than where was raised the throne
Which first her votaries knelt before.
Knowledge shall here unfold
Her “treasures new and old;”
Science lay open her mysterious heart,
That searching eyes its inmost depths may see;
And Helicon’s pure fount its streams impart
To all who thirst for living poesy!
These opening gates will languages unlock,
And free shall flow old Homer’s tide of song,
As when, in ancient days, from Horeb’s rock
Gushed limpid waters for the eager throng.
Britannia’s bards shall dwell
Beneath this classic dome,
And visit—Fancy’s dream to tell—
The laborer’s humble home:
And History’s undying page
Here the eventful past shall state;
Or our brief present, to a future age
Toil in these cheering walls forgot,
The weary soul refreshed shall be,
And riches wait to bless the lot
Of patient Industry—
Wealth, such as shaping intellect hath wrought
From the imperishable mines of Thought.
Spirit of Eloquence, whose voice
Made Academic groves rejoice
In Plato’s days of old!
We dedicate to Thee this Hall—
Here ever at thy trumpet-call
May Truth again grow bold,
And startle Error from his secret hold.
Spirit of Science! here inspect
The mysteries of Philosophy;
Or with thy telescope direct
To starry wonders in the sky.
Spirit of Music, here awake!
This dome with airs melodious fill,
And every listening spirit, make
With rapture thrill!
Spirit of pure Religion! deign
Within this temple to abide,
For Art and Science build in vain,
Unless Thou o’er their work preside:
The crumbling touch of Time
Lays low the edifice sublime;
But if Thy foot-prints there are found,
The spot whereon it stood “is holy ground;”
And every tribute offered there to Thee
The wreck of nature shall survive,
And in the hearts of God and Angels live
Among the records of Eternity.
Newark’s first city library, numbering 1,900 books, opened in 1848 in Library Hall, a three-story building on Market Street. Until the creation forty years later of a free public library, use was limited to shareholders and paying subscribers.
These verses, read at the dedication by William C. Prime, were reread in 1899 when the cornerstone was laid for the library’s present building at 5 Washington Street. The poem was first published in the Newark Daily Advertiser of February 22, 1848.