Years of the Modern
YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform’d! Your horizon rises—I see it parting away for more august dramas; I see not America only—I see not only Liberty’s nation, but other nations preparing; I see tremendous entrances and exits—I see new combinations—I see the solidarity of races; I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the world’s stage; (Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts? are the acts suitable to them closed?) I see Freedom, completely arm’d, and victorious, and very haughty, with Law on one side, and Peace on the other, A stupendous Trio, all issuing forth against the idea of caste; —What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach? I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions; I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies broken; I see the landmarks of European kings removed; I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all others give way;) —Never were such sharp questions ask’d as this day; Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a God; Lo! how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest; His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere—he colonizes the Pacific, the archipelagoes; With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the wholesale engines of war, With these, and the world-spreading factories, he interlinks all geography, all lands; —What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of you, passing under the seas? Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to the globe? Is humanity forming, en-masse?—for lo! tyrants tremble, crowns grow dim; The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war; No one knows what will happen next—such portents fill the days and nights; Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms; Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me; This incredible rush and heat—this strange extatic fever of dreams, O years! Your dreams, O year, how they penetrate through me! (I know not whether I sleep or wake!) The perform’d America and Europe grow dim, retiring in shadow behind me, The unperform’d, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon me.