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MATER FORTISSIMA

MATER FORTISSIMA

PHI BETA KAPPA POEM, CAMBRIDGE, JUNE 25, 1903

AGAIN the song the fathers sang before us !
The cheer that rings through voice and heart

again!
The multitudinous triumphant chorus !

The mighty mother marshalling her men !

“ Come — for behold the East and West are

merging; The frozen Arctic greets the scorching Line ; Come, like the waves on strong New England

surging; Come, for to-day the seas and skies are mine!”

And we, who own no queen on earth above her, We, who from boyhood know her sovereign

sway, Her sons, her knights, and every knight her lover,

Her minute-men — we hear her and obey.

A thousand more their loyal vows have plighted;

A thousand more low at her feet have kneeled;

And every man, upspringing newly knighted,

Hath lifted high God's truth upon his shield.

And she, who wears the wisdom of the ages,

She, who in everlasting youth abides, She, who her sons, the heroes, martyrs, sages,

From youth to manhood and to glory guides, –

“Go forth,” she cries, “from strength to strength

forever; Serve me by serving God and man,” she saith; “Steadfast, upright, of strong and high endeavor,

Fear nothing, and be faithful unto death.”

For the message of the Master
Down the centuries has rolled ;
And the Pilgrims heard the burning word
Like Evangelists of old;

In the cabin of the Mayflower,
When the northwind swept the seas,
In tongues of flame the message came
To the women on their knees;

To the fathers of New England,
To the bold men of the Bay,
Who lodged in the lair of the wolf and the bear,
And the red man fierce as they;

And the grave young scholar hearkened
To the Master's high behest
As he watched the day fly far away
To the darkness of the west.

And westward still he watches,
The width of our wide land,
As he sits alone on a pillar of stone
With his Bible in his hand.

Be it mountain, lake, or prairie,
Be it city strong and fair,
Be it east or west that his eyes shall rest,
He sees New England there.

Be it east or west that his eyes shall rest,
New England stands the same;
For God and the right, at the front of the fight
Are the men that bear her name.

For the message of the Master
She has breathed with every breath;
And come what will, New England still
Shall be faithful unto death.

Harvard, all hail to the mother that reared thee, Mother whose grace and whose glory thou

art!

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