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American Literature

  'Twas glory once to be a Roman: 
  She makes it glory now to be a man.

             Bayard Taylor, “America”

  Behind him lay the gray Azores, 
    Behind, the gates of Hercules; 
  Before him not the ghost of shores, 
    Before him only shoreless seas. 
  The good mate said, “Now must we pray, 

  The muffled drum's sad roll has beat 
    The soldier's last tattoo; 
  No more on Life's parade shall meet 
    That brave and fallen few. 
  On Fame's eternal camping-ground 

  Thou Mother with thy equal brood, 
  Thou varied chain of different States, yet one identity only, 
  A special song before I go I'd sing o'er all the rest: 
  For thee, the Future.

                     Whitman, “Thou Mother”

The last thing we find in making a book is to know what to put first.—Pascal

When an author has finished his history, after months or years of happy work, there comes a dismal hour when he must explain its purpose and apologize for its shortcomings.

  (Not a Lesson, but an Invitation)

  I sleep, yet I love to be wakened, and love to see 
  The fresh young faces bending over me; 
  And the faces of them that are old, I love them too, 
  For these, as well, in the days of their youth I knew.

  Then the warrior, battle-tried, touched the sounding glee-wood: 
  Straight awoke the harp's sweet note; straight a song uprose, 
  Sooth and sad its music. Then from hero's lips there fell 
  A wonder-tale, well told.

  For out of olde feldes, as men seith, 
    Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer te yere; 
  And out of olde bokes, in good feith, 
    Cometh all this newe science that men lere.

                Chaucer, “Parliament of Foules”

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